Germany’s energy regulator, the Federal Network Agency (BnetzA), has said Germany is overly reliant on Russian gas and must continue to rely on coal-fired power generation.
Jochen Homann, president of BnetzA, said "Those who call for an end of coal power generation don't have much interest in a reliable energy policy."
"We will close further nuclear plants; these capacities need to be replaced," Homann said, adding that coal power was vital to achieve this.
The BnetzA oversees power transmission firms (TSOs) that must guarantee a steady supply of electricity.
Homann said that intermittent renewables alone would not be able to replace nuclear power – which has increasingly been reduced since the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Homann also argued that increased exposure to gas could carry risks due to the current crisis in Ukraine, which is a transit route to Europe for Russian gas.
According to Reuters, Russia's involvement in the conflict has led to renewed calls for Europe to shift its reliance away from the country, which meets demand for about a third of the continent's natural gas, oil and coal.
"Whoever eyes a quick switch to gas has to face the question whether this can be an option in light of current events in Ukraine," Homann said.
A number of European countries, including Poland, are pushing for increased sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine. Yet Germany, as the EU’s biggest trading partner with Russia, would be hit hardest by any staunch stance against Putin and Russia. At the start of August, the ZEW indicator of economic sentiment (which measures investors’ expectations for the economy in six months’ time) plunged sharply to a 20-month low of 8.6 points from 27.1 points in July. Carsten Brzeski, an economist at ING, said: "The German ZEW just sent more signs of caution, showing that financial market participants are increasingly becoming pessimistic [as the dispute with Russia continues]."
Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson
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