The head of sales at Gazprom-owned wholesaler Wingas, says the German government’s aim of doubling its renewable power capacity by 2030 will not succeed without the use of gas-fired power generation as back-up.

The goal to raise wind and solar power’s share from a third now to 65 per cent by 2030 is meant to help Germany achieve cuts in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions under its climate commitments.
Ludwig Moehring
However, the volatility of renewables will require gas back-up to prevent shortfalls, according to Ludwig Moehring.

“Renewable power alone won’t work in the coming decades, for reasons of supply security,” Moehring told Reuters during an industry gathering in Essen. “Gas can fill the gap,” he added.

The goal was agreed by negotiators for a coalition deal between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) in recent weeks.

Moehring, citing industry data, said Germany’s fossil fuels-based capacity, which guarantees 24-hour electricity, is due to drop to 72 GW by 2020-23 from 94 GW in 2016.

This is because nuclear reactors must close by 2022 and many heavily CO2-polluting coal plants are being closed for environmental reasons.

“If you go down to around 70 GW of thermal capacity and need to meet 80 GW of top demand, you will need 10 GW to compensate,” he said, adding gas-to-power capacity could be built quickly.

Moehring also said that policy risked remaining too lenient on the heat and transport sectors, whose CO2-cutting efforts have lagged those of heavy industry and energy utilities.

“The danger is that power remains the focus when heating systems and combustion engines also badly need decarbonizing,” he said.