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ANALYSIS: Just how quickly could Germany wean itself off Russian gas?

A new report from the German Institute for Economic Research claims it could be possible for Germany to be free of its dependence several months earlier than the government claims. Here's how that could work.

ANALYSIS: Just how quickly could Germany wean itself off Russian gas?
A gas line on the construction site of a house. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Willnow

Prior to the war in Ukraine, Germany got 55 percent of its gas imports from Russia and was due to double import capacity with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. 

As tensions mounted, however, Chancellor Olaf Scholz pulled the plug on the project and since the start of the war, Germany has been trying to find alternatives to Russian gas. At the latest estimates, around 47 percent of Germany’s gas comes from Russia. 

What measures have already been taken?

As the war in Ukraine has escalated, the German government has been seeking alternatives to Russian gas, such as building new liquified natural gas (LNG) docking stations, making deals with other gas suppliers – such as Qatar – and encouraging households to be frugal with heating their homes. 

READ ALSO: Germany to ‘fast-track’ gas terminals as part of Qatar deal

Despite these measures, German Economics Minister Robert Habeck recently said that he still assumes that Germany will need until mid-2024 to become independent from Russian gas. 

Is there no way to speed this up?

There may be. According to a new report by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Germany could actually manage to do without Russian gas by the end of 2022. 

“If the energy savings potential is maximised and at the same time supplies from other natural gas supplier countries are expanded as far as technically possible, Germany’s supply of natural gas will be secured even without Russian imports in the current year and in the coming winter of 2022/23,” the study says.  

READ ALSO: Germany activates emergency gas plan to secure supply

How could this be done?

The study states that a faster departure from Russian gas dependency does not mean that Germany has to build its own LNG terminals. Instead, the existing ones in the Netherlands, Belgium and France could be used to transport more liquefied natural gas to Germany via the European pipeline network. This, it claims, could eliminate more than a quarter of Russian imports. 

The report also advocates ramping up natural gas imports from traditional supplier countries such as Norway or the Netherlands, and claims that more imports from Norway alone could save about one-fifth of the current Russian imports by more than 50 billion cubic meters per year.

More efficient use of the German and European pipeline system to connect Germany with southern Europe, where supplies arrive from North African countries such as Algeria and Libya, could also ease the situation in the future.

“Admittedly, the additional supply is not sufficient to replace all of the previous Russian natural gas imports,” the DIW admits but, if combined with a decline in natural gas consumption, then Germany’s energy supply would be secure.

Demand could be reduced by between 18 and 26 percent – for example, by completely replacing natural gas in power generation, which the study claims could eliminate up to half of Russian supplies.

In the case of private households, the use of natural gas can only really be saved by reducing demand. Therefore, the report says that energy-saving campaigns are needed as soon as possible, and “measures that increase energy efficiency and facilitate the switch to renewable heat (in combination with heat pumps) must be implemented as soon as possible.”

READ ALSO: Why Germany has urged households and businesses to cut back on gas

Member comments

  1. In which reality was their report based on? Turn of most power plants to be replaced with renewables and heat pumps.

    Its not really a problem with inflation sky rocketing come next winter only the super rich could eat and heat. Wont need so much gas if no one can afford it. Can the DIW work in reality instead of fantasy

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Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest Sunday with an infectious hip-hop folk melody, boosting spirits in the embattled nation fighting off a Russian invasion that has killed thousands and displaced millions of people.

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Riding a huge wave of public support, Kalush Orchestra beat 24 competitors in the finale of the world’s biggest live music event with “Stefania”, a rap lullaby combining Ukrainian folk and modern hip-hop rhythms.

“Please help Ukraine and Mariupol! Help Azovstal right now,” implored frontman Oleh Psiuk in English from the stage after their performance was met by a cheering audience.

In the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the triumph was met with smiles and visible relief.

“It’s a small ray of happiness. It’s very important now for us,” said Iryna Vorobey, a 35-year-old businesswoman, adding that the support from Europe was “incredible”.

Following the win, Psiuk — whose bubblegum-pink bucket hat has made him instantly recognisable — thanked everyone who voted for his country in the contest, which is watched by millions of viewers.

“The victory is very important for Ukraine, especially this year. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Glory to Ukraine,” Psiuk told journalists.

Music conquers Europe

The win provided a much-needed morale boost for the embattled nation in its third month of battling much-larger Russian forces.

Mahmood & BLANCO  performing for Italy at Eurovision 2022

Mahmood & BLANCO perform on behalf of Italy during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” he wrote on Facebook.

“This win is so very good for our mood,” Andriy Nemkovych, a 28 year-old project manager, told AFP in Kyiv.

The victory drew praise in unlikely corners, as the deputy chief of the NATO military alliance said it showed just how much public support ex-Soviet Ukraine has in fighting off Moscow.

“I would like to congratulate Ukraine for winning the Eurovision contest,” Mircea Geoana said as he arrived in Berlin for talks that will tackle the alliance’s expansion in the wake of the Kremlin’s war.

“And this is not something I’m making in a light way because we have seen yesterday the immense public support all over Europe and Australia for the bravery of” Ukraine, Geoana said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the win “a clear reflection of not just your talent, but of the unwavering support for your fight for freedom”.

And European Council President Charles Michel said he hoped next year’s contest “can be hosted in Kyiv in a free and united Ukraine”.

‘Ready to fight’
Despite the joyous theatrics that are a hallmark of the song contest, the war in Ukraine hung heavily over the festivities this year.
The European Broadcasting Union, which organises the event, banned Russia on February 25, the day after Moscow invaded its neighbour.
“Stefania”, written by Psiuk as a tribute to his mother before the war, mixes traditional Ukrainian folk music played on flute-like instruments with an invigorating hip-hop beat. The band donned richly embroidered ethnic garb
to perform their act.
Nostalgic lyrics such as “I’ll always find my way home even if all the roads are destroyed” resonated all the more as millions of Ukrainians have been displaced by war.

Kalush Orchestra received special authorisation from Ukraine’s government to attend Eurovision, since men of fighting age are prohibited from leaving the country, but that permit expires in two days.

Psiuk said he was not sure what awaited the band as war rages back home.

“Like every Ukrainian, we are ready to fight as much as we can and go until the end.

Britain’s ‘Space Man’

Ukraine beat a host of over-the-top acts at the kitschy, quirky annual musical event, including Norway’s Subwoolfer, who sang about bananas while dressed in yellow wolf masks, and Serbia’s Konstrakta, who questioned national healthcare while meticulously scrubbing her hands onstage.

Coming in second place was Britain with Sam Ryder’s “Space Man” and its stratospheric notes, followed by Spain with the reggaeton “SloMo” from Chanel.

After a quarter-century of being shut out from the top spot, Britain had hoped to have a winner in “Space Man” and its high notes belted by the affable, long-haired Ryder.

Britain had been ahead after votes were counted from the national juries, but a jaw-dropping 439 points awarded to Ukraine from the public pushed it to the top spot.

Eurovision’s winner is chosen by a cast of music industry professionals — and members of the public — from each country, with votes for one’s home nation not allowed.

Eurovision is a hit among fans not only for the music, but for the looks on display and this year was no exception. Lithuania’s Monika Liu generated as much social media buzz for her bowl cut hairdo as her sensual and elegant

Other offerings included Greece’s “Die Together” by Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord and “Brividi” (Shivers), a duet from Italy’s Mahmood and Blanco.

Italy had hoped the gay-themed love song would bring it a second consecutive Eurovision win after last year’s “Zitti e Buoni” (Shut up and Behave) from high-octane glam rockers Maneskin.