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    Climate neutrality needs gas: Wintershall Dea

Summary

On the eve of Germany's elections, the country's largest fossil fuel producer says gas helps the economy function with lower emissions.

by: William Powell

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Climate neutrality needs gas: Wintershall Dea

Major European independent Wintershall Dea CEO Mario Mehren has urged policymakers to make natural gas a core component of the energy transition. Germany goes to the polls this weekend in national elections that mark the end of Angela Merkel's long-standing chancellorship. 

“In particular last year, we in Europe were able to demonstrate that gas reduces emissions, cuts costs and secures our energy supply,” Mehren said. "Studies prove that a cleaner energy supply is possible: According to Agora Energiewende in its study The European Power Sector in 2020. Up-to-Date Analysis of the Electricity Transition, the decline in coal-fired power generation in Europe reduced greenhouse gas emissions by around 320mn metric tons/year compared with 2015 – or about 7% of Europe’s CO2 emissions in 2020. 

As energy demand rises and renewables are not always reliable, it was gas that enabled coal to be turned down, he said. Gas accounted for almost half the reduction in coal-based energy production. “If it had not been for gas, the lights would have gone out at many companies. We also need gas in the near future if we want to make net zero a reality. The goal must be a secure energy supply with two pillars: gases such as hydrogen and electricity from renewables. We in Germany and Europe must continue vigorously on this path,” he said.

With the phase-out of low-carbon nuclear energy – one of Merkel's initiatives – policy-makers must adopt a technology-neutral strategy, he said. “We need to do one thing, without abandoning the other. Nuclear power phase-out will mean that a further 50 GW will go off stream next year. We have to expand renewables unswervingly, but we will still need electricity and heat from natural gas. If you want renewables, you can’t leave gas out of the equation.” Otherwise, Germany’s supply security, its position as an industrial location, prosperity and jobs would be put in jeopardy, he said.

This is an abridged guest column that originally appeared in Euractiv.