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    Germans Fear Energiewende, Positive on Gas: Survey


Most Germans see natural gas as the best way to balance intermittent renewable energy supplies, according to market research. But it's not a big majority.

by: Mark Smedley

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Germans Fear Energiewende, Positive on Gas: Survey

Most Germans see natural gas as the best way to balance intermittent renewable energy supplies, according to a survey by market research company Forsa on behalf of a German gas industry lobby. But the survey also reveals deep anxieties and ambivalence.

 The CEO of Zukunft Erdgas (Gas Future) Timm Kehler said June 13: "The survey published today confirms that natural gas, as a cost-effective, reliable and environmentally friendly source of energy, will continue to be a mainstay of energy supply in the future.” Its statement said that 54% of respondents consider natural gas as the best partner for solar and wind energy – well ahead of wood (22%), nuclear (17%) and coal (14%). Respondents could choose more than one option. Those replying 'none of the above' accounted for just under 10%.

Also 52% of respondents believe that demand for gas will increase, whereas only 19% thought it will decline in the future.

Affordability of energy supply is a key criterion for two out of three Germans (67%), the statement continued. "This is a clear mandate for the [German] federal government to make the restructuring of the energy system as cost-effective as possible," stressed Kehler. He said that, whereas 2017 retail gas prices in Germany were 5% lower year on year, and are affordable, government statistics showed that power prices rose by 2.4%  in the same period and are now in the top spot in EU terms.

Forsa surveyed 1,001 citizens aged 18 and over in the representative study from May 7 to 9 2018.

Kehler said that the survey reinforces the point that the energy transition in Germany (Energiewende) “will not work without gas” and that, on the side of renewable energies, “natural gas infrastructure is the backbone of the energy transition. What is missing is a coherent policy concept in order to bring this generational project to fruition as quickly as possible."

Two recent studies, one by German energy agency Dena, and an earlier one by Germany’s gas grid owners' association FNB, said that using the country’s existing gas infrastructure – as part of an integrated energy transition towards a lower-carbon economy – could reduce costs by tens of billions of euros, when compared with one that relies more heavily on electricity and less on gas and liquid fuel.

While 54% judging gas as the natural partner of renewables seems hardly a resounding endorsement, the survey unearths a deep vein of scepticism towards energy transition in general.

Confidence in the German government in being able to achieve a friction-free energy transition has declined markedly over the past two years. Forsa's survey shows that only one in three Germans of any age believes the Energiewende can be achieved without complications whereas 62% foresee complications, congestion and shortfalls in energy supply. 

Among the 18-29 age group, the anxious group comprises 66% of respondents. Supporters of the Green Party/Alliance 90 left-wing environmental group of all ages are the most confident (50%) in a trouble-free Energiewende, whereas all other parties (SPD, CDU/CSU, FDP and right-wing Alternative fuer Deutschland) are more anxious. 

A summary of the survey from Forsa is available here in German only.