In Germany, the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur für Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Post and Eisenbahnen, BNetzA) and the Green-led Ministry of Economy and Climate Protection aim to build up to 21 gigawatts (GW) of additional gas-fired power plants to ensure grid stability and reliability. It appears from internal documents.
The German government wants to provide 80% of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and completely abandon coal. Gas-fired power plants must cover the remaining 20% and compensate for periods of low wind and low sunshine.
“Investments in gas-fired power plants […] remains relevant provided there are adequate LNG capacities [gaz naturel liquéfié] and prices normalize”we can read in a document of the ministry.
Overall, while gas consumption in Germany is expected to decrease due to the electrification of heating networks, the capacity of gas-fired power plants is expected to nearly double. In November 2022, the production capacity of electricity produced from gas was 27.5 GW.
In its semi-annual report on grid sustainability for 2025-2031, the regulator envisages the construction of 17-21 GW of additional capacity. According to him, this is the most profitable method.
This proposal has been accepted by the government, can we read it in the documents? This confirms that Germany has hardly backed off from its trajectory, despite the suspension of gas supplies by its main supplier, Russia.
In October 2021, RWE energy company CEO Markus Krebber predicted similar numbers. “We need about 20-30 gigawatts of new gas-fired power plants in Germany”he told the German weekly WirtschaftsWoche.
To ensure sufficient gas availability, the government is strongly committed to LNG. “LNG import capacity in Germany should be further increased”the document says.
By the end of 2023, Germany’s LNG import capacity will approach two-thirds of the volume previously supplied by Moscow – other projects are in the works. Civil society and environmental NGOs are already concerned about what they perceive to be very expensive production.
To address these concerns, the government emphasizes that future gas-fired power plants must be able to run on hydrogen.
European electricity market
The regulator’s report also highlighted the importance of Europe’s cross-border electricity market.
“Opening borders helps to cost-effectively balance changing production and consumption through cross-border trade and electricity exchanges”– the report says.
The European Commission is currently in the process of overhauling the electricity market, which should coincide with Germany’s push for a new approach.
“The German government will continue to play an active role in the revisions to the design of the European electricity market announced by the European Commission”according to the document.
Special attention will be given “Ensure that European regulations pave the way for a climate-neutral electricity system.”
German experts started their work within the framework of the “climate-neutral energy system design” platform. In particular, they must ensure that electricity storage providers are sufficiently rewarded to compensate for the intermittent nature of renewables.
[Édité par Anne-Sophie Gayet]