On 21/22 November 2013 the Erdgas Symposium 2013 will look into the role of natural gas in the energy transition (Energiewende). I will give a presentation on 21 November, focusing on the implications of the Energiewende on natural gas from a legal point of view.
The future role of natural gas is very much under discussion. The previously stable environment is being affected by shale gas, LNG, renewables, derivatives trading, unbundling and regulatory requirements, changing prices for coal and oil, and many more factors. Following Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear energy until 2022, gas was heralded as the new bridging technology on the way to a renewable energy supply. However, presently conventional power plants, including modern highly-efficient gas-fired plants, can often not be operated profitably given the prices at the electricity exchange. They are under pressure by the increasing amount of renewable energy that has priority in the German grids and is sold at the exchange by the transmission operators. Many German utilities are thinking about closing down conventional power plants. In April E.ON agreed with Tennet TSO GmbH not to close down its highly efficient but presently unprofitable gas-fired power plant units near Ingolstadt within the next three years for reasons of the security of supply. The company will receive the fixed costs for the power plants.
The need to help balance the growing amount of intermittent renewable energy actually calls for flexible reserve power capacities, which could very well be provided by flexible gas-fired power plants. Besides gas grids could be used to storage excess renewable power production (regarding the so-called power-to-gas technology, please see here).
I will try to shed light on the challenges and opportunities of natural gas following the Energiewende, covering the exisiting legal framework, possibly also highlighting new developments that become apparent after the Federal Election on 22 September 2013.
For more information on the conference programme, registration and contact details, please see the link provided below.
Source: Erdgas Symposium 2013