Germany could face gas supply disruptions this winter due to the ongoing energy crisis, according to Markus Krebber, CEO of RWE, the country’s largest utility. Krebber warns that the cold weather poses a threat to the energy security of the European Union’s largest economy, as Russia, once Germany’s main gas supplier, significantly reduced its exports of natural gas more than a year ago.
“If there is a very cold winter or supply disruptions, it can lead to very critical situations – and as a result to shortages and significantly higher prices,” Krebber stated in an interview with business magazine WirtschaftsWoche. He also pointed out that Germany currently has no buffer in the gas system, highlighting the need for the country to accelerate the construction of gas import infrastructure to prevent future shortages.
Before the Ukraine conflict, Germany relied on Russia for up to 40% of its gas demand. However, in the past year, Berlin has reduced its dependence on Russian energy by replacing it with imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), primarily from the United States. LNG has become the main source of gas for Germany.
Western sanctions and the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines have pushed Germany to establish floating terminals in Wilhelmshaven, Lubmin, and Brunsbuttel. The country is now swiftly developing its own infrastructure to replace Russian gas supplies.
Despite these efforts, the German authorities continue to urge consumers to save gas, and they anticipate that natural gas prices will remain high at least until 2027. INES, a group of German gas storage operators, stated in its August gas update that Germany will remain at risk of gas shortages until the 2026-2027 winter season unless it expedites the construction of additional LNG terminals, expands gas storage capacity, or builds more pipelines.
In response to the potential gas shortage, the German government recently announced the revival of several coal plants to save gas and avoid power supply shortfalls this winter.
The energy crisis in Germany highlights the importance of diversifying energy sources and investing in infrastructure to ensure energy security. Germany’s reliance on Russian gas and the subsequent supply disruption demonstrate the vulnerability of the country’s energy system to external factors. As the EU’s top economy, Germany must prioritize the construction of import infrastructure and expand its capacity for alternative energy sources to mitigate future risks.
In conclusion, Germany faces the risk of gas supply disruptions this winter due to the energy crisis and reduced exports from Russia. The country must accelerate the development of gas import infrastructure to avoid shortages and higher prices. Germany has already decreased its reliance on Russian gas by importing LNG, but further investments in infrastructure are necessary. The German government is bringing coal plants back online to mitigate power supply shortfalls. The situation underscores the need for diversification and investment in energy security to protect the country’s economy and consumers.