Gas is not over

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

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Wintershall Dea/Romanus Fuhrmann

“Gas is over,” the European Investment Bank President, Dr Werner Hoyer, said during a press conference. I say: “No, it is not!” Quite the opposite: it can kick-start the European economy in times of crisis. Here is how and why.

While energy demand is rising, Europe has decided to transform its economy to become the first climate neutral continent. Our task is clear: we need more energy with lower emissions at affordable prices.

Of course, this means the gas industry – and thus Wintershall Dea as well – needs to change, too. And we will: the future of energy is decarbonised. I am fully convinced that gas will be an important pillar of Europe’s future energy system.

We need more gas – not less!

Recently, I presented four theses for a secure supply of clean energy to policymakers from the German Bundestag. I pointed out to them that more gas is needed in the energy mix – not less. I clearly disagree with Dr Werner Hoyer on this.

Renewable sources alone will not meet the growing energy demand in the foreseeable future. They need a strong and reliable partner that is flexible and steps up when needed – without placing an undue burden on consumers and the industry. Natural gas can and will be this partner across all sectors.

We need to establish a market for hydrogen now!

However, I agree with the EIB’s technology neutral approach to support hydrogen generated from both renewable sources and natural gas. Hydrogen has the potential to put the energy transition back on track.

However, we must quickly establish a resilient market to unlock this potential. For this, it is not crucial how hydrogen is obtained. Being clean is what matters: it has to be produced in a climate neutral manner.

While hydrogen produced from renewables is currently neither competitive nor available in sufficient quantities, hydrogen from natural gas can help to quickly establish a European market for hydrogen. For this to happen, European policymakers must set the right course now. We need a technology neutral energy policy that does not rashly exclude any potential.

We need to secure an affordable supply of clean energy!

Europe is facing immense challenges: we need to tackle climate change, address growing energy demand, and get our pandemic-shaken economy back on track. Gas can deliver on all of that. It can reliably kick-start our economy and help the industry become greener and reduce its emissions – at an affordable cost.

Denying this puts our industrial locations at risk: In Germany, the amount of industrial electricity generated from natural gas has almost doubled in the last ten years. The energy transition can only succeed if it takes into account the triad of security of supply, competitiveness (of industry) and social acceptance (for private households).

As the leading independent European gas and oil company, Wintershall Dea, together with its partners, ensures a secure supply of energy for industrial sites in Europe. At the same time, we are committed to the European climate targets and have presented an ambitious programme to reduce our emissions.

Our company aims to achieve net zero operations by 2030 by increasingly focusing on reservoirs from which we can produce with a relatively low carbon footprint. Strict emissions management (e.g., increasing energy efficiency) shall be pursued further.

This will be complemented by investments in nature-based mitigation solutions (like forest protection and reforestation) and the development and use of new mitigation technologies. These include participation in carbon capture storage projects (CCS) in the North Sea and investments in hydrogen projects.

During the next ten years, the company intends to invest around €400 million in reducing and offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. Wintershall Dea and gas will be part of the solution!

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