Germany's Energy Transition Dream at Risk of Becoming Nightmare

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Rigzone hears Wintershall's exploration and production director warn that Germany's 'Energiewende' dream of pursuing an economy powered by renewables is in danger of turning into a nightmare.

Wintershall's head of exploration and production warned Wednesday that Germany's 'Energiewende' (or Energy Transition) dream of pursuing an economy powered by the wind and the sun is in danger of turning into a nightmare.

Speaking to energy journalists at the ONS exhibition in Stavanger, Norway, Wintershall Executive Director Martin Bachmann said he was concerned about figures recently published by Statistics Norway that showed overall investment in Norway's petroleum sector will drop by EUR 6 billion ($7.9 billion) next year

"That is actually bad news for Europe's security of supply and I think Germany – as the biggest market in Europe – has played a large part in creating this uncertainty," Bachmann said. 

"With the so-called 'Energiewende' – Energy Transition – Germany is pursuing a great dream: that one day it can live from the air and the sun alone. But when you look at the facts today, this dream is in danger of turning into a nightmare."

For it to realize its Energy Transition dream, "Germany must remind itself of why the Energy Transition was launched in the first place", Bachmann said, pointing out that the country needs to develop an energy provision that is at the same time ecological, secure and affordable.

"Let me be clear on that. The ecological goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and not actually the share of renewables in the energy supply," Bachmann said.

"Now, unfortunately we are a very long way from that. What is clear is that renewables have to play an important role in the Energy Transition. However, renewables need reliable partner technologies that balance out the fluctuations in the wind and the sun's power, and which ensure that the energy supply remains secure and affordable.

"Across the political spectrum, natural gas was seen as the ideal partner for renewables, but what has actually happened in Germany is that coal has in fact gained ground again, while natural gas is increasingly coming under pressure. In Germany, it is the fuel that is most harmful to the climate – coal – that is partnering solar and wind power … That is climate policy madness!"

Bachmann's view echoes similar comments made by Frances Egan, CEO of UK shale gas firm Cuadrilla Resources, in February this year that the environmental lobby is "making the 'perfect' the enemy of the 'good'".

At Wintershall's press conference Wednesday, Bachmann and his colleague – Wintershall Norge Managing Director Bernd Schrimpf – highlighted that Norway is the second-most important energy supplier to Germany after Russia. They pointed to recent research, commissioned by Wintershall, that 78 percent of Germans would favor Norway as a reliable partner to make up for declining natural gas production in the rest of the EU. Sixty-two percent named Canada and 45 percent named the United States, while only 38 percent named Russia.

Schrimpf added that Wintershall has set its sights on producing 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day on the Norwegian Continental Shelf by 2015, with the Knarr and Edvard Grieg fields playing a part in achieving this figure. Meanwhile, the Maria discovery, with its estimated production volume of around 130 million barrels of crude oil in addition to 2 billion cubic feet of gas, is set to begin production in 2018.


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Jan  |  September 16, 2014
It is quite remarkable that Germany, under these circumstances, does not go back to the use of nuclear power to get almost all the ennergy they need. The cause of shutting this powersource down obviously was the trouble in Japan - but actually that trouble was not primarily caused by the reactors but by the tsunamy. It is another example of making a political decision rather than a technical one.