Asked on public radio if Europe’s largest economy could do without natural gas deliveries from Russia, currently its largest supplier, Economy Minister Robert Habeck responded, “yes, it can”.
On Tuesday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the approval of the NordStream 2 pipeline from Russia would be suspended in response to President Vladimir Putin’s decision to recognise two breakaway regions of Ukraine.
Cutting itself off completely from Russian gas would leave a big hole in the market that in the first instance would “drive prices higher”, said Habeck of the Green party.
However Germany’s power demands could be “compensated” with other energy sources and suppliers, including an accelerated renewables push set out by the government, he said.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was completed but never approved by regulators, was set to increase Germany’s dependency on Russia for gas to 70 percent of its total deliveries.
The project was consistently supported by the previous chancellor Angela Merkel, who left office at the end of last year, as well as her successor Scholz — until the current crisis.
At present, Germany relies on Russian gas for around a quarter of its energy needs, though the traffic-light government is planning a large-scale transition to renewables in the coming years.