The German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has declared himself in favor of a gas pipeline that transports gas from Portugal and through Spain and France to the rest of Europe, to cut the current dependency on Russian gas. Scholz has regretted that it had not been built yet, since now the “massive contribution” that it would be making to the supply of northern Europe is missing “dramatically”, as he said in a press conference after the summer break, focused on the energy crisis resulting from the war in Ukraine.
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The chancellor has explained that he has spoken with his colleagues from Spain, France and Portugal, as well as with the president of the European Commission (EC) to promote this project, since the existence of connections with North Africa would help diversify the supply . A gas pipeline of these characteristics “would massively resolve current problems”, added the foreign minister, who highlighted the current government’s efforts to reduce energy dependence on Russia and admitted that previous executives had not considered this possibility. Germany is now one of the European countries most dependent on Russian gas.
“Every government, every company, must take into account that situations can change and prepare for it if this happens”, he stated after acknowledging that his coalition – between Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals – has been “surprised” by the lack of alternatives to a possible reduction in Russian supplies.
Germany’s gas deposits have reached around 75% of their capacity, according to the latest data from the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), the level that according to the government’s objectives was to be achieved by September 1. The data released corresponds to Tuesday and places the level at 73.7%, which means that between this Thursday and tomorrow, Friday, 75% will have been exceeded, since it rises at least 0.5% daily.
The Scholz Government had set itself the goal of deposits reaching 75% of their capacity on September 1, to rise to 85% on October 1 and 95% on November 1, a level sufficient to guarantee supply throughout the winter. This evolution, however, depends on the shipments received through the Nord Stream gas pipeline being maintained.
The Russian giant Gazprom completely stopped supplies in mid-July, arguing that maintenance work had to be carried out. When the service was restored, the volume had dropped to 20% of its capacities, compared to 40% previously.
Germany has managed to maintain the pace of storage due, in part, to the reserves of a coal plant that has been reactivated being used for electricity consumption. In addition, energy consumption has begun to be saved in public buildings, lighting of monuments, swimming pools and other facilities, according to the criteria of each “Land” -federated state-.
Among Scholz’s tripartite between social democrats, greens and liberals there is disagreement regarding the possibility of postponing the disconnection of the last three nuclear plants still in operation in the country and which must be out of service at the end of this year.
The Greens, the party of the Minister for the Economy and Climate Protection, Deputy Chancellor Robert Habeck, reject this possibility, although they do not completely rule it out. The Liberals propose a postponement of the disconnection until 2024 and the reactivation, if necessary, of at least one other plant that was already out of service last year.
Scholz has not ruled out a complete farewell to nuclear power being postponed, depending on how the situation evolves until winter. Currently the three nuclear plants still in operation provide 6% of the electricity supply.