What went wrong with Germany? Europe’s leader in renewable energy is now building LNG terminals to make up for lost Russian gas. Germany had no LNG terminals before Russia’s war in Ukraine, now it’s making deals in the Middle East and building LNG terminals. This activity exposes how much Russian gas was used to make the miracle of the Energiewende, Germany’s roll-out of renewables in the energy transition, away from coal and nuclear.
In this conversation with Pieter de Pous, E3G Senior Policy Advisor, on the Fossil Transition Team, we have a broad discussion on the background to Germany’s energy transition and the switch away from Russian gas. We also delve into the world of EU politics and the Fit for 55 package.
I’ve titled this episode as the ‘Big Conversation on Germany’s Energy Crisis’ for a reason. Pieter was kind enough to sit down and share his knowledge on how well Germany and the EU are weathering the high gas and electricity prices, and the impact this has on the energy transition. Our conversation covers a wide field of energy issues. I was really impressed by Pieter’s knowledge of both the policy-making process and the balancing act that politicians straddle. He also is very knowledgeable about the workings in Brussels.
I’ve done minimal editing – as I usually do – but this episode unfolds in a gentle conversation style where a lot of topics are discussed in ways that are both clearly connected and in other ways are a bit more random. By the end, I’m convinced you’ll have a greater understanding of the politics behind Germany’s energy transition and a new perspective on energy security that the German government holds.
As Pieter describes, maybe Poland and its cautious stand against Russian energy interests was justified. Certainly, Germany and the EU is now adopting the Polish energy security position. And we have a lot more to say on this point.
This interview was recorded in October 2022. But I think it has aged well over the past few weeks and still provides a clear context to the challenges Europe faces to move away from Russian fossil fuels.
Before moving on, we have big news this week – We are launching the Repowering Leadership in European Energy and Food Summer School. This is done with the Central European University, Summer University program and with the Open Society University Network. You can find a link to the call for applications in the show notes.
A final note, this interview was done for my current role as an Open Society University Network, Senior Fellow at Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs. Funding was generously provided to produce the podcasts until the end of 2022. And the funding was provided to travel to interview a range of experts on how the current energy crisis is impacting different countries around Europe.
The intent of the My Energy 2050 podcast is to spread the knowledge about how the energy system can assist our transition towards a greener future. The content of each episode is great for teaching, research and identifying how you can assist this energy transition.
Patuleia, Artur, Charles Moore, and Pieter de Pous. “Climate and Security Ambition in EU’s Russian Gas Phase-Out.” E3G. Accessed December 27, 2022. https://www.e3g.org/publications/climate-and-security-ambition-in-eu-s-russian-gas-phase-out/.
Pous, Pieter de, and Pawel Czyzak. “The EU Needs to Urgently Unite behind Proposals for a Clean Power Boom.” E3G, June 20, 2022. https://www.e3g.org/news/the-eu-needs-to-urgently-unite-behind-proposals-for-a-clean-power-boom/.
The Big Conversation on Germany’s Energy Crisis.
What is EEG and how does it work?
Within the EU, is phasing out gas perceived to be happening quite quickly?
If your approach is replacing LNG with LNG, that’s not going to happen.
How long does it take to get to 100% renewable energy?
Germany’s dependency on Russian gas.
What’s the biggest problem in eastern Germany?
How the Just Transition Fund will impact regions that are transitioning away from coal.
What’s a plausible scenario for East Germany?
Hydrogen ready? What is it?
What’s the plan for the energy efficiency and renewables directive?
Energy prices are going to remain high.
How do you see energy solidarity developing in the future?
Dr. Michael LaBelle is an associate professor at Central European University in the Department of Environmental Sciences. He produces the My Energy 2050 podcast to change how we communicate and improve the energy transition.