Berlin plans to increase its use of coal instead
Germany’s economy minister said Sunday that his country will limit its use of natural gas for power generation amid fears of a possible shortage caused by reduced supplies from Russia.
Minister Robert Habeck said Germany would try to compensate for the restriction by burning more coal, which causes more air pollution.
“This is sad, but it’s simply necessary in this situation to lower gas usage,” said Habeck, who is a member of the Green Party.
Last week, Russian gas company Gazprom announced it was drastically cutting gas supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for technical reasons, but Habeck suggested the decision had political overtones.
Germany, which has long depended heavily on energy imports from Russia, began cutting imports significantly because of the war in Ukraine.
Nevertheless, the government has insisted that Russian gas will be needed until alternative energy sources such as LNG, which is delivered by sea, become available. In recent months, the German government has taken steps to fill 90 percent of its natural gas storage facilities by November to ensure there is enough gas for heating in the winter.
According to Habeck, the storage facilities, which are currently 56.7 percent full, can compensate for the gas shortfall from Russia by purchasing gas from other countries. Nevertheless, the minister called the situation “serious” and said that further measures might be necessary.
The German government recently urged citizens to reduce energy consumption because of the tight supply situation.
“Obviously, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s strategy is to knock us out by raising prices and dividing us,” Habeck said. “We will not let that happen.”