Without cheap gas from Russia, industry may have to switch to H2 instead of natural gas as a bridging technology, emphasized Climate State Secretary Graichen at the Berlin Energy Days.
"Many certainties that have applied for decades no longer apply. Change through trade and rapprochement - the motto that was particularly important in the energy sector is passé," commented Patrick Graichen, State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Economics, referring to the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine at the start of the Berlin Energy Days. However, the answers to making ourselves independent of Russian oil and gas now meant taking steps "that we have to take in the context of the climate crisis. In this respect, as far as the foundation of our climate and energy policy is concerned, the war has tended to reinforce this" - "in other words, to move with more vigor and speed into renewables, energy efficiency, electrification and green hydrogen."
The Easter package already outlines targets with "numbers that can make you dizzy": 215 GW of photovoltaics, 115 GW of onshore wind power and 30 GW offshore by 2030. "Anyone who doesn't invest in these technologies now hasn't heard the shot," Graichen said. The same applies to the demand side, he added. To replace gas in the energy sector, he said, you inevitably end up with electricity - core technologies in the heating sector for single- and two-family homes are heat pumps, and green district heating in inner cities. 5 to 6 million heat pumps by 2030 have been set as a target, and heating equipment manufacturers are now investing in these technologies, Graichen emphasized.
Graichen elaborated on the roadmap to quickly become independent of Russian energy sources. No more coal imports to Europe as of August; with oil, this is already somewhat more difficult, especially for eastern Germany. But to this end, he said, the company has just been talking with Poland about cooperative ventures for deliveries through the port of Gdansk to ensure supplies. "The most difficult issue is gas, we won't be able to solve that by the end of the year without considerable friction." Ultimately, he said, the goal here must be to reduce overall dependence on natural gas. "That means getting into a completely different speed in terms of building alternative technologies in an industry that has been rather slow in its responses, namely the heating market."
According to Graichen, previous thought patterns must fall. For example, when it comes to the question of whether heat pumps are suitable for the housing stock. "Let's look at the high installation rates in Sweden, Norway and France, where people don't all live in insulated houses either." To all appearances one slept here for years the trend. The question is no longer whether the heat pump will come, but whether it will come from German production. The goal, he said, must be to get the market ramp-up up to speed. "Invest now, now are the shortages. Whoever is currently in a position to offer this is doing the deal of a lifetime," Graichen said.
He also said speed is paramount for green hydrogen. "In a world where we won't have cheap Russian gas anymore, Germany as an industrial location has to readjust." If natural gas was still seen as a bridging technology in the recent past, for example in the steel industry from the coke oven as an interim solution via a natural gas-fired process in the direction of direct reduction, that must now be reconsidered, he said. "If this intermediate natural gas solution now becomes expensive, then it has to go directly to hydrogen reduction."
He said that the energy price crisis resulting from the war increasingly shows that Germany is moving in the right direction with its transformation steps, but it also shows that further acceleration is needed beyond what is already planned. According to Graichen, society as a whole must play a part in this. "We need an energy-saving campaign, one that is different from what we've had before." His ministry is currently working on this, he said. "A large-scale "Germany-saves" campaign - in industry, commerce, trade, services, private and schools. Everywhere, the motto must be: 10 percent always works."
The world with favorable prices of fossil energies is over. The status quo ante will not exist, he said. "If you take the energy world market price as the new gas price, then we are now in a different world than we were before." Answers would have to be found for that - relief packages in the short term, for starters. "But whenever it goes beyond three, four years, it has to be investments in technologies that don't require gas and oil."