Biden, Scholz talk gas strategies
US president Biden and German chancellor Olaf Scholz discussed their energy strategies in the face of Russian-Ukrainian tensions in a joint press conference on February 7.
When asked to outline specific steps that Germany is taking to reduce its energy dependence on Russia, Scholz replied that Germany’s approach is part of its strategy to fight manmade climate change. Germany has committed to phasing out of the use of oil and natural gas with a short timeline. By 2045, the plan is to attain a carbon-neutral economy while still maintaining a strong economy.
“We're talking about industrial production, [like] producing steel, chemical substances, cement,” said Scholz.
“Changing these industrial processes and reorganising systems is what we have planned. For this year, we'll continue to take far-reaching decisions that will help us to use more wind energy, offshore, onshore and solar energy and expand capacities -expand the grid," he said.
Scholz plans a strategy for greater use of hydrogen not only in Germany but also worldwide, which he said is a central element for change to the current industrial processes that employ oil and gas right now. He said he intends to work together with industry, but “it will probably be the biggest industrial modernisation project in Germany in 100 years.” He said Germany’s energy mix today is about one quarter linked to natural gas with part of that gas coming from Russia, and a large part coming from Norway and the Netherlands.
President Biden said the US has been looking at opportunities to make up for any lost supply of natural gas from Russia and thinks the US could make up a significant portion of it.
“But what everybody forgets here is Russia needs to be able to sell that gas and sell that oil,” Biden said.
“It's the only thing they really have to export. And if, in fact, it's cut off, then they're going to be hurt very badly as well. This is not just a one-way street. So we are looking at what we could do to help compensate for immediate loss of gas in Europe if it occurs.”
Scholz’s closing comments reaffirmed his intentions that Germany will modernise its economy very quickly and switch from natural gas to hydrogen.