The head of Germany’s largest internationally active crude oil and natural gas producer says Bavaria is set for an energy crunch by 2022, with development of the state’s gas-fired power capability the best means of avoiding such an outcome.

Wintershall CEO Mario Mehren told delegates at the German Energy Congress industry event on Tuesday, “In 2022 if not before, Bavaria will face difficulties with its electricity supply.”
Wintershall CEO Mario Mehren
Bavaria would have to shut down three currently-operating nuclear power plants by then, amounting to 4 GW, and have to import a large share of its electricity from elsewhere in Germany or beyond instead.

The state is particularly feeling the effects of the government’s decision to phase out nuclear power, while transmission of wind power from the north of the country to the south is too far behind in its current development to offer an alternative.

Mehren said adding that existing gas pipelines in northern Germany could offer an alternative to building expensive new power transmission lines in order to balance electricity supplies, feeding gas-fired power plants and stabilising the grid sufficiently.

Wintershall says that one solution would be to scale up the use of gas-fired power plants in Bavaria. “We would be well-advised to find long-term solutions. In a few years, when nuclear disappears from the market, we will need guaranteed capacities for generating electricity,” said Mehren.

Natural Gas Europe website reported that the CEO also expressed dismay at the failure of the European Commission to approved planned use of the Opal gas pipeline, which would ensure plentiful supplies of gas for the plants.

Wintershall and Gazprom have invested over €1bn to build the 470km Opal pipeline from Greifswald on the Baltic Sea coast to the Czech border, enabling gas to reach southern Germany via the Czech pipeline Gazelle that was commissioned in 2013.

“Brussels shouldn’t block the planned full capacity utilisation of the German pipeline any longer,” he said, adding he hoped the obstacle could be removed this winter.