Energy Congress: Natural gas back in the limelight

The industry discussed the future energy mix and effective climate protection at the German Energy Congress in Munich.

Munich. More objectivity and less ideology: Natural gas has had an increasingly hard time in the general debate about the energy mix of the future in the past years, but now this source of energy is visibly back in the limelight. That was clear from the talks and discussions at the 11th German Energy Congress in Munich.

Whether decarbonization, the energy transition or linking of sectors – given that the energy transition in Germany has focused solely on renewable energies and yet CO2 emissions have not actually fallen, there now seems to be a growing realization that natural gas can help achieve the climate protection targets. “We’re finally starting to have a serious discussion of how we can get lower CO2 emissions – as cost-effectively and efficiently as possible,” stated Gerhard König at the industry get-together. “The energy transition’s actual objective is to reduce CO2. And we haven’t managed to do that so far.”

Under the slogan “Decarbonization – Objectives and Challenges,” WINGAS’ Managing Director talked with Patrick Graichen from the Berlin think-tank Agora Energiewende, Bernd-Uwe Haase, Commercial Director at Mitteldeutsche Braunkohle Gesellschaft (Mibrag), Matthias Hartung, Chief Executive Officer of RWE Generation SE and RWE Power AG, and Ralf Sikorski from the trade union IG BCE. In particular, the future of coal in the energy mix was fiercely discussed by the panel.

“The energy industry needs to reach a consensus of its own on coal,” was the appeal of Agora’s visionary Graichen to the industry. “Not only for reasons of protecting the climate, but also for economic reasons. After all, not one power plant earns money and there really ought to be a market shakeout in the offing – instead, everyone is looking at one another to see who has the longer staying power. That’s irresponsible.” However, Mibrag’s director Haase warned that replacing coal with gas would result in higher electricity prices. “That then also needs to be spelled out to electricity customers.” He advocated not just paying attention to lignite – other areas also had to cut CO2.

That was a stance König contradicted: “If we really want to take the climate resolutions adopted in Paris seriously, we can’t keep carrying on in the same old way. We need to reduce CO2. And that doesn’t work with coal. In terms of carbon content, natural gas supplies more energy than the other conventional sources and emits around 50 percent less CO2 per kWh than hard coal or lignite. The future energy mix will therefore be one of renewables and natural gas.”

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