Germany gets pro quo for backing gas price cap –

According to EURACTIV, in December, after months of reluctance, Berlin finally accepted a controversial proposal to cap the price of gas imports from the EU in return for emergency provisions to stimulate the expansion of its electricity grid.

The EU’s biggest economy has long opposed a proposal to cap gas prices backed by a coalition of 15 EU member states.

Germany, which lost supplies of cheap Russian gas last year after the war in Ukraine, feared the EU proposal would limit the ability of German companies to find alternative supplies in the gas market.

Berlin asked the European Union to finance its intelligence “New gas fields” abroad and accelerates the deployment of renewable energies.

However, since the financing of new gas projects was impossible, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz eventually succumbed to the pressure. ofgas price cap Measured from the block.

In return, he got some concessions. During the 27 energy ministers approved the price limit Advice Energy» in December, they also gave the green light to a European Commission proposal aimed at accelerating the deployment of renewable energies.

And at Germany’s request, power grids have been included in revised EU rules for emergency permits.

According to Article 6 of the adopted regulation, the Member States of the Union “to apply exemptions to certain assessment obligations provided for in Union environmental legislation for renewable energy projects, energy storage projects and electricity grid projects necessary for the integration of renewable energies into the electricity grid”.

An amendment has been added, according to EU diplomats “last minute” At the request of Germany and included in a “session document” It was distributed among the ministers at the December meeting.

In public discussion Advice Energy» in December, the Minister of Economy and Climate of Germany, Robert Habeck, did not hide that the main reason for his stay in Brussels was the room document.

“Everything you said sounded good”Habeck told the Czech energy minister, who chaired the meeting. “But they told me that we need a room document to make a decision, otherwise we won’t make a decision.”.

“Well, is this document being prepared? » asked a delighted Mr. Habeck after receiving approval from the officials in the room.

A spokeswoman for Germany’s Economy and Climate Ministry later confirmed to EURACTIV that speedway clearance rules were a key part of the deal in Berlin’s eyes. It will help to include EU electricity grids in emergency authorization regulation “guarantee” The expansion of the network will continue at the planned pace, the spokesperson said when asked about the contract.

Strengthen networks

Germany has long struggled to strengthen its electricity grid, particularly in the south of the country, where opposition from farmers and local unions has blocked the construction of overhead power lines.

A new grid expansion law is due to come into effect in 2023 to boost the north-south energy link, which is essential to bring Germany’s abundant offshore wind production to the energy-hungry south.

Bypassing an environmental impact assessment could speed things up considerably, according to Layla Sawyer, the current secretary general of Europe, the trade association for companies providing electricity grid technology.

Ultimately, the decision rests with the EU member states “I made it” decide to include the expansion of electricity grids in the renewable energy goals. Indeed, in order to expedite permissions, a field must first be assigned “renewable energy area or dedicated network area for the associated network infrastructure necessary to integrate renewable energy into the electricity system”he noted, referring to Article 6 of the adopted regulation.

In cases where the projects are affected by bird or animal species, the national authorities of the network manager “proportionate mitigation measures or, in the absence thereof, compensatory measures to ensure the protection of the species”defines the regulation.

The German government has repeatedly clashed with environmental groups over relaxing biodiversity protection laws to speed up the deployment of renewable energy.

According to the adopted European regulation, renewable energy projects are considered “Based on public interest” and intended to benefit “Public Health and Safety”.

However, environmental groups believe that the key to the rapid expansion of solar and wind energy lies not in repealing environmental laws, but in better spatial planning and increased administrative capacity of permitting authorities.

Layla Sawyer seems to agree with this statement: ” More needs to be done to build the necessary network capacity.” and achieving EU renewable energy targets. And“It must be done very soon” He added that to get rid of Russia’s fossil fuels as soon as possible.

[Édité par Anne-Sophie Gayet]

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