Berlin, MINA – German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said his country would limit the use of natural gas for electricity production, but use coal more.
This was done to anticipate possible supply shortages after Russia sharply reduced the flow of natural gas in its pipeline to western Europe, thereby driving up energy prices.
“To reduce gas consumption, less gas must be used to generate electricity. Coal power plants should be used more,” Habeck said in a statement as quoted by Al Jazeera on Sunday.
Russian state gas giant Gazprom said the reduction in supply via the Nord Stream pipeline was the result of repair work, but European Union officials believed Moscow was punishing ally Ukraine.
Berlin’s temporary switch to coal is a turnaround for the views of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats, Greens and FDP.
“It’s bittersweet but urgently needed to reduce gas consumption,” Habeck said.
The government said Russian gas would be needed for a while until alternative energy sources, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) imported by ship, became available.
Over the past few months, the German government has taken steps to fill gas storage facilities to 90 percent by November to ensure gas is available as a fuel during the European winter.
Habeck said the current storage facility was 56.7 percent and was still able to make up for the shortfall from Russia with purchases from elsewhere, but he nevertheless described the situation as serious.
The German government recently asked citizens to reduce their energy use in light of the tense supply situation.
“It is clear that [Russian President] Putin’s strategy is to annoy us by raising prices and dividing us. “We’re not going to let that happen,” Habeck said. (T/RE1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)