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    German Gas Coalition Seeks Changes to Law


More money needs to flow into power plant construction and the government should take a broader approach to hydrogen, it says.

by: William Powell

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German Gas Coalition Seeks Changes to Law

As gas displaces more coal in Germany's power sector, new rules are needed, says the industry group Gas Coalition in a position paper published June 29.

Gas industry pressure is mounting both within member states and the European Union as a whole to ensure that policy-makers do not overlook the role gas can play in the energy transition and that the cost and practical benefits of molecules are recognised.

Gas coalition member Wintershall Dea said that legislators need to improve the investment conditions for flexible gas power stations in order for natural gas to unleash its full potential: “Gas power stations provide an affordable and reliable supply of electricity in Germany. To preserve this advantage, we need CHP legislation (combined heat and power) with a long-term focus,” it said. "Natural gas and renewables complement each other well. They make a great tandem.

"In recent months various new gas projects have already been created and local fuel switches from coal to natural gas have taken place – also for reasons of cost-efficiency. Evonik is building a new gas power plant in Marl, for instance. Yet, in view of the growing gap in energy supply that is expected to result from the phasing out of nuclear power and coal, we need even more projects," Wintershall Dea said.

The share of gas and renewable energy rose to 70% by April while that of gas fell to 12%, according to figures from the German association of energy and water industries. In the middle of June (week 24), natural gas marginally held the top position, with 1.39 TWh. Last year, switching from coal to gas use enabled CO2 emissions to fall 6mn metric tons. 

Wintershall also said the German federal government’s national hydrogen strategy would provide useful funding but the strategy needed to be technology neutral. At the moment it excludes hydrogen produced from natural gas alongside renewable hydrogen. "Thanks to its significant price and volume advantages, decarbonised hydrogen from natural gas can make up for shortfalls in renewables capacities and accelerate the much-needed development and growth of the hydrogen market," it said.

Industry group Eurogas will launch July 1 a paper by Norwegian consultancy DNV GL that compares the various costs of reaching net zero carbon by 2050. Using gaseous energy where practical will save trillions of euros between now and 2050 compared with the EU approach, called 1.5TECH, which relies very heavily on electrons. 

Blue hydrogen is produced from gas with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS); green hydrogen is produced from water using electrolysis, which is extremely wasteful of energy and so will probably rely heavily on surplus renewable energy. Grey hydrogen is produced from methane with no attempt to limit emissions.