This article looks at how Germany’s planned nuclear phase-out has become a key election issue and how the outcome of the upcoming election could decide whether the country continues on its road to phase out all nuclear power by 2021, or if it extends the lifetime of its nuclear plants. Thomas Pockrandt, energy specialist at PA Consulting Group, comments on the role of gas in the country’s energy mix in future.
Thomas highlights that coal remains unpopular with the German electorate, and how coal’s unpopularity is further propping up the expected future demand for gas. Thomas goes on to comment on some unexpected hurdles this might create in Germany: "On the one hand, it is very difficult to get approval [for building coal-fired power plants]. On the other hand, it is very difficult to get attractive gas prices." Thomas goes on to comment on the impact of liberalisation of various markets, meaning that it has become more attractive to sell gas to industry and households, rather than power plants. Thomas added, "There are even examples where investors have changed their minds – and have built a coal-fired plant instead – or have distanced themselves from gas plant projects because gas plants were not competitive enough."
Thomas goes on to highlight the importance of projects such as Nordstream, with the direct link between Russia and Germany helping to avoid the diplomatic complications seen in the recent gas crisis, and increase Russian volumes flowing to Germany.
The article concludes that, while the election result remains uncertain, it is clear that Germany’s energy landscape will have to change in future.