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Germany's Energy Summit should reduce dependence on Russian oil and gas

Industrial leaders, trade unions and politicians are meeting today to discuss long-term energy security, diversification and free-market reforms. The International Herald Tribune explains that Germany is one of the most energy dependent EU countries:
The energy sector is heavily dependent on oil and gas. Mineral oils make up 37 percent of needs, but 97 percent is imported, a third coming from Russia. Gas accounts for 23 percent of consumption, of which more than 80 percent is imported, 37 percent from Russia. (...) With growing dependence on Russia for its energy, some politicians say it is time to diversify sources. The coalition's energy experts also agree that Germany needs a policy that is much more aggressive in dealing with global warming, promoting efficiency and becoming economically competitive.
Germany's dependence on Russia is much stronger than US dependence on Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The IHT quotes Friedemann Müller, an energy expert at the German Institute for International Policy and Security:
Germany's energy policy has for years been influenced by the big companies that have hampered competition and have done their best to prevent diversification of energy sources because it would undermine their position in the market. These policies damage our economy and our competitiveness. (...) For 20 years Ruhrgas, which has long term contracts to import gas from Russia, has owned a piece of property at one of the big harbors where it has blocked the building of such a terminal because it would undermine their monopoly on the domestic gas market.
Recently it was revealed that the Schröder government offered a government loan guarantee for the Russian pipeline project. Merkel's long-term energy concept is not expected till 2007. Today's energy summit is overshadowed by a debate to use nuclear power longer than previously decided.
If you would like to save energy and money, check out the Online Advisor for fridges, freezers, heating and pumping systems. Fulbright Alumnus Steffen Schmuck-Soldan, PhD, works for the NGO co2online, which created them.


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Kuch on :

Joerg What do most Germans think about the use of Nuclear Power? You mention in your post the debate about the lack of timeliness with respect to phasing out Nuclear Energy Plants in Germany. So I wonder how does the German penchant for enviromentalism (not a bad thing) "square" with the desire to phase out nuclear power. I've always thought that from an eviromental perspective, that nuclear was much cleaner than oil and gas technologies.

Jorg W on :

I was searching for opinion polls, but did not find any. I might have missed one, but then again we do not have as many polls as in the US. My understanding is that Germans don't like nuclear energy, because nuclear power plants are not considered safe enough and they produce so much nuclear waste. I think dependeny on energy imports is not a big issue yet. Perhaps opinions are changing and more Germans are willing to use the nuclear energy plants a bit longer. Sure, some groups call for new plants, but I don't think the majority supports such plans. I think only few environmentalists are in favor of nuclear energy for environmental reasons. Most of them prefer wind energy and promoting energy efficiency.

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