Dhe energy suppliers fear that their customers will be upset in the near future. “We will all have to deal with an autumn of rage,” said Kerstin Andreae, general manager of the Federal Association of Energy and Water Management (BDEW), on Tuesday in Berlin at the European Economics Conference, which is organized by the FAZ and the business school ESMT. Because the gas prices are rising rapidly and with them the advance payments that flutter through the mailboxes of many customers.
The former Greens member of the Bundestag praised the contribution of the energy suppliers she represents. The companies are making great efforts to get people in Germany through this winter well: “All hell is breaking loose in the customer centers at the moment. In companies, they are starting to install alarm buttons and train their staff on how to deal with people who are unsure, worried or even angry.”
Will there be gas rationing and power outages? When it comes to energy supply, Andreae emphasized that there are many unknowns to be dealt with this winter. The gas storage facilities in Germany are well filled at 91 percent. But that’s not a reason to relax. A total of 240 terawatt hours of working gas can be stored in Germany. But in a very cold winter month alone, 130 to 140 terawatt hours would be consumed, with milder temperatures around 110, Andreae calculated. It is true that new gas will continue to flow to Germany over the winter months. However, she did not want to rule out cold apartments and power outages in the coming months. She once again urged people to save gas.
“Cannot subsidize against high prices”
The problem will not go away overnight either. On the futures market, on which gas suppliers stock up on energy in the long term, it can be seen that the price development in 2024 could even exceed that of the next year. “We have people who would have to spend their entire net income on energy in the future, that can’t work.” That’s why political relief is necessary. The right way is a gas price cap, which provides consumers, medium-sized companies and energy-intensive industries with a reduced basic quota.
Andreae defended the rescue of Germany’s largest gas importer Uniper. There is no question that the group must be supported. Dropping Uniper would have a domino effect, with the supply chain collapsing all the way to the end consumers. However, Andreae rejects a long-term commitment by the state in the energy and basic supply, which is what Bundestag President Bärbel Bas had in mind in an interview with the FAZ. Studies have not only shown that the liberalization of the energy market in the past has resulted in considerable gains in prosperity. “We can only invest our way out of this crisis, we cannot permanently subsidize high prices,” she said.
A situation in which Russia supplies Germany with cheap gas will no longer exist. As important as short-term relief is, so is a clear and rapid expansion of renewable energies and the development of a hydrogen infrastructure. As much as the energy industry can contribute to relief through its currently high profits, politicians are asked to create an attractive investment environment. Andreae was hopeful about the pace that politics is setting for the expansion of liquid gas infrastructure. “I would like us to succeed in achieving the same pace in the area of renewables and grid infrastructure.”