Germany Returns To Coal Usage As Russia Cuts Gas Supplies To Europe


The war between Russia and Ukraine has forced the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin to cut gas supplies to Europe, thereby raising concerns about possible shortage of gas to Germany and other European countries.

The development has forced the German government to consider the passage of emergency laws to reopen it’s coal plants for electricity generation and auction gas supplies to industry.

The auctioning of gas supplies to industries is aimed at incentivising businesses to curb consumption.

Russia is the third-largest oil producer behind the United States and Saudi Arabia. But Russia is the largest oil and products exporter in the world, and Europe depends on the nation for supplies.

In January 2022, total Russia oil and products production stood at 11.3 million barrels per day of which around eight million bpd is exported.

In 2021 Russia was the largest exporter of oil and natural gas to the European Union, and 45 per cent of the European Union’s natural gas total imports originated in Russia.

The largest importers of Russia’s gas in the European Union are Germany and Italy, accounting together for almost half of the EU’s gas imports from Russia.

Other larger Russian gas importers in the European Union are France, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Austria and Slovakia.The largest non-EU importers of Russian natural gas are Turkey and Belarus.

With this new plan to embrace coal, Germany will significantly increase its use of highly polluting coal to preserve energy supplies ahead of the winter as the decision by Russia to reduce gas exports threaten shortfalls in Europe’s largest economy.

The Economic Minister of Germany,
Robert Habeck described the latest move as ‘bitter but essential’ to ease threat of energy shortage.

Habeck said Berlin was working on a new law to temporarily bring back up to 10 gigawatts of idle coal-fired power plants for up to two years.

This would increase Germany’s dependence on coal for electricity generation by up to a third.

The Germany’s economy minister said the country will limit the use of natural gas for electricity production after Russia sharply reduced flows of natural gas in its pipelines to western Europe, driving up energy prices.

“To reduce gas consumption, less gas must be used to generate electricity. Coal-fired power plants will have to be used more instead,” Robert Habeck said in a statement.

Russian state gas giant Gazprom said the supply reductions through the Nord Stream pipeline are the result of repair work, but European Union officials believe Moscow is punishing allies of Ukraine, where Russian forces launched an invasion in February.

Germany’s temporary recourse to coal marks a turnaround for Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s ruling coalition of Social Democrats, Greens and the liberal FDP, which has vowed to wind down its coal usage by 2030.

“It’s bitter but indispensable for reducing gas consumption,” Habeck said.

The government has insisted that Russian gas will be needed for a while until alternative sources of energy, such as liquefied natural gas brought in by ship, are available.

Over the past months the German government has taken measures to fill gas storage facilities to 90 percent capacity by November to ensure enough gas is available as a heating fuel through the European winter.

Habeck said storage facilities, currently at 56.7 percent capacity, were still able to make up the shortfall from Russia with purchases from elsewhere, but he nevertheless described the situation as “serious” and said further measures may be necessary.

The German government recently called on citizens to cut back their energy use in light of the tense supply situation.

“It’s obvious that [Russian President] Putin’s strategy is to unsettle us by driving up the price and dividing us. We won’t let that happen,” Habeck said

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NATO Says It’s Ready To Back Kyiv For Years In War Against Russia


NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg holds a news conference along with the European Parliament president at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, April 28, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

According to Reuters reports, NATO is ready to maintain its support for Ukraine in the war against Russia for years, including help for Kyiv to shift from Soviet-era weapons to modern Western arms and systems, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.

He spoke after the Kremlin warned that Western arms supplies to Ukraine, including heavy weapons, posed a threat to the security of the European continent “and provoke instability”. read more

“We need to be prepared for the long term,” Stoltenberg told a youth summit in Brussels. “There is absolutely the possibility that this war will drag on and last for months and years.”

The NATO chief said the West would continue to put maximum pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”, through sanctions and economic as well as military aid to Kyiv.

Read Also: Russia Steps Up Assault On East Ukraine, Putin Threatens Countries That Intervene 

“NATO allies are preparing to provide support over a long period of time and also help Ukraine to transit, move from old Soviet-era equipment to more modern NATO-standard weapons and systems that will also require more training,” Stoltenberg said.

Most of the heavy weapons NATO countries have sent to Ukraine so far are Soviet-built arms still in the inventories of east European NATO member states, but the United States and some other allies have started to supply Kyiv with Western howitzers.

Germany on Tuesday announced the shipment of Gepard tanks equipped with anti-aircraft guns to Ukraine, the first time Berlin has approved heavy weapons deliveries for Kyiv. read more

Ukraine’s pleas for heavy weapons have intensified since Moscow shifted its offensive to the Donbas, an eastern region with largely flat, open terrain seen as better suited for tank battles than the areas in the north around the capital Kyiv where much of the earlier fighting took place.

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