The gas emergency is a big concern. Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Economics Minister Robert Habeck warn of “the worst”. Instead of warning and admonishing, the federal government should do seven tasks to save the winter.
Government politicians can’t stop shivering. Collectively, they are afraid of the gas emergency and swear the population at dark times.
An apocalyptic firework display was set off over the government district: “We have to prepare for the worst,” predicts Habeck. “There is a risk of an economic crisis that has to be taken very seriously,” warns Christian Lindner, and Chancellor and Social Democrat Scholz senses and fears – appropriate to the target group, one might think – the “social explosive”.
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The segment of warners and reminders is well occupied. What is missing is leadership. Because there are seven things that should happen now and that still don’t happen:
Extending the service life of the last three nuclear power plants still in operation is the first thing to be decided now. The operators of the nuclear power plants Isar 2 (Bavaria), Emsland (Lower Saxony) and Neckarwestheim 2 (Baden-Württemberg) are legally obliged to switch off the plants on New Year’s Eve 2022 to 2023 and, in order to be able to guarantee smooth continued operation, they would have to start the preparations now meeting.
The Federal Republic would have to do what the USA did 30 years ago: start exploring for fracking gas. These are gases that can be extracted from the shale rock in which they are bound using complex chemical processes. In Germany there are up to 2.3 trillion cubic meters of shale gas underground, which would correspond to the gas consumption of 30 years. Surf tip: You can find all the news about the corona pandemic in the FOCUS Online news ticker
The argument that these gases will not save us in the coming winter does not stand up. Because every inaction is registered on the energy markets and is included in the prices as a risk premium.
Robert Habeck should not only promise new gas supply sources, but also deliver them. Supply deals with Qatar are still not sealed, while Italy has already announced a multi-billion dollar partnership with the state-owned utility for a liquefied natural gas project. The other two possible LNG terminals in Stade and Rostock are also not making any progress. The project has just been stopped in Rostock, acclaimed by the Greens, who are close to environmental aid. In Stade is still being planned.
The expansion of renewable energies should be pushed ahead at full steam. The previous speed in the construction of solar systems and wind turbines is not enough. Only around 16.1 percent of the total German energy consumption in 2021 comes from renewable energies. The reason: the approval procedures are complex and the possibilities for objection are extensive. A wind farm takes around seven years from the sketch to commissioning, and photovoltaic systems on roofs have to be approved by government agencies – if you can even find someone to build them – even though they are installed by specialist companies.
The Greens, who like to use citizen participation as an instrument of power outside of parliament, have now agreed with the SPD and FDP to a 590-page expansion law for renewable energies. Green energies are now “national interest”. However, according to experts, such as the think tank Agora Energiewende, the measures are not sufficient to achieve the goal of 80 percent green energy by 2030.
The subject of saving energy is preached on Sundays and neglected on weekdays. The Federal Environment Agency calculates that investments in modern energy-saving technology in households and companies can save around 10 to 27 percent of today’s energy consumption. Even without Putin’s gas war, that would be an act of reason.
Traffic, which accounts for 27.2 percent of energy consumption, should be slowed down at the latest in an emergency situation and thus its energy intensity reduced. Large-scale traffic calming in inner cities and speed limits on the motorways are on the agenda in winter at the latest. It would be an imperative of political common sense to agree on this now across party lines.
The federal government’s communication strategy has so far been based on a chancellor who, when asked if he had any energy-saving tips, answered “Nope.” answers and an economics minister who advises shorter shower intervals. A hands-on strategy for energy savers is missing.
Conclusion: The Federal Republic is not as helpless as our politicians think. There are alternatives to enduring and suffering a gas emergency. Or to paraphrase Henry Kissinger:
“The test of politics is not how something begins, but how it ends. “
Gabor Steingart is one of the best-known journalists in the country. He publishes the newsletter The Pioneer Briefing. The podcast of the same name is Germany’s leading daily podcast for politics and business. Since May 2020, Steingart has been working with his editorial staff on the ship “The Pioneer One”. Before founding Media Pioneer, Steingart was, among other things, CEO of the Handelsblatt Media Group. You can subscribe to his free newsletter here.