Robert Habeck and the demolition for the climate

Ludwig Erhard knew that economic policy is half psychology. Robert Habeck did not adopt this wisdom. This is proven by his “Green Paper”, according to which “the length of the gas distribution networks will decrease sharply from the current 500,000 kilometers”. Because the “goal of climate neutrality in 2045 requires a move away from fossil fuels and the expansion of renewable energy sources.” His green Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK) wants to conduct the discussion in a small circle with the gas network operators and federal and state ministries.

The plans are not new. In 2020, the municipal utilities of Augsburg – where the CSU governs with the Greens – announced that gas supplies would end in ten years and that citizens should switch to district heating. Finally, the Bavarian Climate Protection Act stipulates that the Free State should be “climate neutral” by 2040 at the latest. Patrick Graichen, ex-head of the philanthropist-financed Robert Habeck Agora Energiewende, heat pump propagandist and Habeck’s short-term state secretary, confirmed the dismantling of the gas network in May 2022, because in 2045 “there will no longer be any gas in the networks”.

The energy expert Stefan Schönberger from the Robert Habeck Boston Consulting Group (BCG) was even more specific in the summer of 2023: “We will need 80 to 90 percent fewer gas pipes in the future.” The BMWK therefore expressed a lack of understanding for the emerging criticism. If were climate-neutral in 2045 and all households used district heating or heat pumps, all that would be needed would be those parts of the pipeline network that transported gas through to other countries and transported “green” hydrogen or biomethane.  Robert Habeck The demolition would protect the remaining gas customers from rising network charges. The remaining long-distance and transit lines (40,000 kilometers) and the essential distribution lines (60,000 kilometers) supplied industry, storage and gas power plants.

Habeck’s plan comes at the wrong time

Habeck wants to have 60 of the latter built – as a replacement for the nuclear power plants and coal-fired power plants that have been shut down. “Business with gas networks will no longer take place in the area,” predicts BCG expert Schönberger. This is also due to the EU Buildings Directive (EPBD; JF 13/24): This stipulates the phase-out of boilers powered by fossil fuels by 2040.

Habeck’s “Green Paper” still comes at an inopportune time. is in recession and deindustrialization. More than 25 percent of medium-sized manufacturing industries are considering relocating production abroad or investing exclusively in their facilities there. According to the heating industry association BDH, 790,500 gas heaters were installed in 2023 – and only 356,000 heat pumps. And according to the current figures from the Robert Habeck Federal Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), 48.3 percent of the 41.9 million apartments in are heated with natural gas, 23.4 percent with oil and 5.6 percent with wood or coal – but only 15.2 percent with district heating and 7.5 percent with electricity. And in 16 years (EU, Bavaria) or 21 years (BMWK) should all “fossil” heating systems really be shut down?

All municipalities are obliged by the BMWK and the “Heizungshammer” (Building Energy Act/GEG) to develop heating and heat planning, which is already overwhelming for most cities and communities with fewer than 100,000 inhabitants. A possible compulsion to demolish the gas network, which is owned by the municipality via the municipal utilities, makes planning and cost calculations obsolete. Robert Habeck In addition, no community can seriously plan its gas network maintenance; in addition to the risk of dismantling costs, all municipal utilities face complete investment uncertainty.

No LNG without gas pipes

Robert Habeck The operation of the gas networks requires regular replacement work on the supply networks, which are deliberately laid out redundantly with several lines. So far, investment planning has been carried out from the perspective of maintaining the functionality and value of a network calculated to be used in perpetuity.  Robert Habeck These plans are now no longer applicable, because every new line runs the risk of having to be torn down again after just two decades, well before the end of its technical useful life. An identical risk exists for investments by small and medium-sized industrial companies that use gas in numerous production processes.

The decommissioning plans also contradict the BMWK’s accelerated strategy for importing liquefied natural gas (LNG). After the floating terminal, the first stationary LNG terminal is to be built in Stade, Lower Saxony. Financing is secured, construction is scheduled to begin this year, and the LNG terminal of the Spanish network operator Enagás is scheduled to go into operation from 2027. Stationary LNG terminals are also to be built in Wilhelmshaven and Brunsbüttel – and without gas pipelines, these billion-dollar investments would be pointless.

Robert Habeck

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