Go quickly. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz inaugurated the second floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the port of Lubmin on the Baltic Sea on Saturday January 14. Operated by TotalEnergies, this ship has an annual regasification capacity of 5 billion cubic meters, enough to cover around 5% of German demand.
In mid-December, Olaf Scholz had inaugurated the first floating terminal, in Wilhemshaven, on the North Sea, which is also operated by the French group, which is becoming “one of the main LNG suppliers in Germany”, according to its communicated. Another should also be commissioned by the end of the month in Brunsbuettel, at the mouth of the Elbe.
Three new floating terminals will follow in the year in Germany, after construction sites carried out at no load thanks to the billions of euros released by the government, which also passed a law reducing the administrative delays for the construction of these installations.
When the six are operational, they should provide a third of the country’s gas needs. According to the government, several of them should eventually be converted into permanent land terminals from 2026.
Overcome the intermittency of renewables
Because the Germans’ addiction to gas remains stronger than ever, despite the gradual cessation of Russian gas deliveries, mainly via the Nordstream 1 gas pipeline, which represented more than half of the country’s supply before the war in Ukraine. Its double, Nordstream 2, which was to come into operation this year was largely sabotaged last September.
According to a report published in early January by the Federal Network Agency, the authority that regulates the sector, Germany should almost double its gas-fired power plant capacities (currently 27.5 GW) with the contribution of 17 to 21 GW over the 2025-2031 period to meet its electricity needs. Several dozen new units will therefore be built.
While the official objective is to produce 80% of electricity from renewable sources by the end of the decade, it will be a question of ensuring the remaining 20% with gas, since the country is supposed to there having stopped both the use of coal and nuclear power.
An increase in the carbon footprint
With so much intermittent energy, gas should also be used to guarantee the stability and reliability of the network. At night, when there is no sun and on windless days (which are very common when it is very cold), the plants will also run at full capacity to meet demand. Clearly, Germany is choosing renewables and gas, which is not necessarily very good in terms of emissions.
Already, according to the Electricity Map site, Germany had a carbon intensity of 419 g of CO2 per Kwh, Monday January 16 at 10 a.m., with electricity production comprising 60% of renewables. In France, thanks to nuclear power, the carbon intensity of the electricity produced was… 60 g of CO2 per KWh, with 36% renewables.
In this scenario, Germany has no other solution than to turn to LNG, which will come in particular from the United States and the Gulf emirates. But the environmental question is posed and remains unanswered for the time being. To the point that the subject is starting to be debated in the country, especially with the massive arrivals of shale gas from the American east coast.
For some environmental movements, the pill is hard to swallow, especially since they hardly believe in the government’s promises to quickly convert these terminals from gas to hydrogen.
Because the carbon footprint of American shale gas is not good. According to the firm Carbone 4, its extraction alone represents 40% additional emissions compared to conventional extraction. “The upper range of the carbon footprint of American LNG is equivalent to 85% of coal emissions for the same amount of energy consumed”, underlines the study. Between Norwegian or Dutch gas and American shale gas, carbon emissions thus vary from 1 to 10.
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