Natural gas was once viewed as the compromise between expensive renewable energy, such as wind and solar, and dirty sources like coal. It is cheap, plentiful and capable of providing a steady supply.
Lies against the IVG German gas cavern facility expansion. (Photo credit: SPD in Lower Saxony, Creative Commons-Lizenz Namensnennung 2.0 US-amerikanisch (nicht portiert)) lizenziert.
As renewable energy becomes more abundantly used and the problem of stabilizing the power grid grows, Germany opted long ago to use natural gas to fire generators in order to balance out the power grid during windless and sunless periods. However, using natural gas as a back-up requires the construction of massive storage facilities to store the gas. This is done by building huge underground caverns deep in salt strata and then filling them with the gas at a very high pressure – approaching 200 bars.
Having anticipated this growing gas demand in Germany, former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder even closed a gas deal with Vladimir Putin to build the huge Nord Stream pipeline to bring in the gas from Russia. The pipeline runs across the Baltic Sea and delivers the Russian gas to the underground caverns and markets in Germany. As a reward, Schröder now sits on the board of Nord Stream.
Schröder and his SPD socialist party were once big proponents of the pipeline and gas cavern storage facilities, and pushed the projects through even amid international opposition, especially Poland. Not to worry they told us, it’s the right thing to do and, besides, there are no alternatives. A large number of gas cavern projects were quickly approved and today many are currently under construction. Natural gas is truly in the pipeline in Germany.
However, that enthusiasm was yesterday. Today Schröder’s SPD party is slipping away in the polls and it seems SPD party members have recently decided to tap into the populist energy of green political opposition. Gas caverns are now facing a headwind from the SPD: one cavern for example is the IVG facility in Etzel in northern Germany.
According to local Radio Jade, SPD state parliament candidate Olaf Lies (love that name) has decided that the very gas projects his party once enthusiastically supported are suddenly no longer in the interest of the public after all. He has announced that he now opposes expansion of the Etzel gas caverns.
Radio Jade writes:
The SPD state parliament candidate Olaf Lies has positioned himself against an expansion of the gas cavern in Etzel.”
Mr Lies joins two other prominent SPD Lower Saxony parliamentarians, Karin Evers-Meyer and Peter Prill of the “Quality of Living Horsten-Etzel-Marx Citizens Initiative“, who are now protesting the expansion of Etzel. Prill accuses the cavern operator IVG of “falsifying data”. Lies agrees and said he opposes the construction of additional caverns because there’s a “fear that the ground will sink” and that the study showing the public interest is served is on shaky ground.
Here we have politicians at their worst. First they tell us it’s good for us and there’s no alternative, and then, in the middle of construction, they turn around and tell us it’s bad and that the alternatives were never properly explored!
Today, not only are German citizens against nuclear power, but their political leaders (once huge proponents of a new energy infrastructure) are hopping onto the protest bandwagon and protesting any component of the new energy infrastructure such as power transmission lines, windparks, shale gas, and now gas storage caverns.
In fact, the only source of power that remains unopposed in Germany today is solar power. Unfortunately the sun here hardly ever shines.