Germany’s suicidal reflexes

The Scholz-government is either blackmailed to reject Russian gas or incompetent

A comment by Ralph T. Niemeyer

One may wonder what brought the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to agree to block Russian gas imports from Russia although there are no sanctions against such, not like against oil and other products from Russia which Germany now buys through India which turns Russian oil into Diesel badly needed for German industries and transport. German industry and consumers pay a high price for this nonsense.

But how come the German government imposes a self-restriction on it’s vitally important gas imports from Russia. YEs, the two North Stream pipelines got blown up by whoever, but not all strings are destroyed as both pipelines have each two strings, Nordstream I is gone completely and won’t be repaired as it is half-owned by DEA Wintershall and other western energy conglomerates, but Nordstream II still has one unharmed functionable string where the explosives didn’t go off as planned.

Nordstream I is Gazprom-owned by 100%, so nothing holds Russia back from delivering gas to Germany though it if there was not a missing license certification that Germany and the EU Commission would have to grant. No matter how one wants to look at the war in Ukraine, it doesn’t add up why German industry and population are suffering from it. Punishing Putin has definitely not worked so far.

And, Germany is in need, indeed! The capacity of German gas storage facilities is 23 billion cubic meters of gas. This puts Germany in 4th place in the world. Only the USA, Ukraine and Russia have larger capacities.

All German gas storage capacities correspond to a quarter of Germany’s annual consumption. And, Germany has a quarter of the total European gas storage capacity (or let’s call it gas buffer capacity).

Since the German gas storage volume of 23 billion cubic meters represents a quarter of the German annual consumption, that means that the total German consumption would amount to about 92 billion cubic meters per year.

So if 55 billion cubic meters per year can arrive via a Nord Stream pipe pair, all 4 Nord Stream pipes together could have brought 110 billion cubic meters per year, meaning that all 4 Nord Stream strands alone can land 20% more than the entire German annual consumption.

A tenth of Germany’s annual consumption, i.e. a further 10%, is also covered by Germany’s own gas sources on an ongoing basis.

Since there are also other pipelines to Germany (e.g. JAMAL through Poland and through Ukraine) Germany could have sold a lot more gas to its European neighbors than just the excess 30% of its annual consumption considered here.

But these numbers also mean that Germany’s own sources plus all German storage tanks that were once full only covered 35% of the total German annual consumption if all of a sudden there were no other gas imports of any kind…

If 55 billion cubic meters per year can arrive via a pair of Nord Stream pipes, so the Nord Stream II string that is still intact could deliver 28 billion cubic meters per year, i.e. almost a third of Germany’s annual consumption.

Now, therefore if the German gas storage were completely empty, it would take 10 months until the remaining intact one strand could fill up the German storage tanks if, at the same time, the current consumption of the country, as it is somehow going on at the moment, would be covered completely without Nord Stream.

If one describes the 3 months December to February as “winter”, this corresponds to a time quarter of the year, but certainly more than a quarter of the German annual consumption, since in addition to the year-round probably quite constant Production-Process-Consumption of the industry is heated a lot in winter (in all kinds of buildings), i.e. the quarter of the annual consumption represented by the full German storage facilities was not enough for Germany alone for 3 winter months.         

The storage is only intended as a buffer for technical delivery failures and technically necessary delivery downtimes.

Perhaps now a consideration of the different gas quantity units:
“One cubic meter” of gas, by definition, must refer to a specific reference pressure that this is the volume converted to 1 bar of pressure.

While in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline there is not 1 bar, but at full throughput there is 220 bar at the beginning and at the end 100 bar arrive (the rest falls by the wayside as flow-driving pressure loss).

The 28 billion cubic meters per year then meant the amount relaxed to 1 bar, while in Germany’s Nordstream landing town Lubmin at 100 bar only 280 million cubic meters of gas per year flow through the pipe cross-section.

A gas meter in the house measures the cubic meters used, so converted to 1 bar. On the gas bill, however, the billing is about the equivalent kWh of energy content, which represents the volume of gas consumed.

So there is a conversion from cubic meters to kilowatt hours!
This factor is (depending on the gas mixture quality of the locally present gas blend) around 11, so 1 cubic meter of gas provides 11 kilowatt hours of heating energy.

The 28 billion cubic meters of gas per year correspond to one Nord Stream line then about 310 billion kWh, i.e. 310 million MWh (mega-watt hours) or 310 thousand GWh (giga-watt hours) or 310 TWh (terawatt hours).

The annual consumption of a country is often given in statistics in terawatt hours and not in “giga cubic meters”. For comparison, now the amount of electrical energy that a coal-fired power plant or nuclear power plant supplies: Such a large power plant typically has an output of 1,100 MW or 1,300 MW. So let’s say 1,256 MWh. And a year lasts 8,760 hours.
Multiplied together, this results in a delivered annual energy volume of 11,000,000 MWh = 11,000 GWh, i.e. about 11 TWh (terawatt hours).

A Nord Stream strang, with its 310 TWh, supplies Germany with as much heating capacity as 28 large power plants.  So if Germany does all gas-fired heating tasks in industry and buildings (We don’t even consider coal and oil here) with electric heaters, i.e. by heating rods, electric radiators, radiant heaters, fan heaters, immersion heaters, infrared radiators, etc., Germany would need additional (92 billion / 28 billion) * 28 large power plants = 92 large power plants (coal-fired power plants, nuclear power plants) and a correspondingly insane tangle of extra power lines and underground cables.

The huge new wind turbines on land have 5 MW (offshore wind turbines even 15 MW). If a wind turbine were to turn permanently in strong winds, we would need 250 of them alone, to replace a 1,256 MW large power plant.
But since there is often weak wind or no wind or even shutdown during a storm, 1,000 such “large wind turbines” would be needed
just to replace one large power plant.

So we would need 92,000 more such large wind turbines to replace all the gas. The Federal Republic of Germany accounts for 360,000 square kilometers. So every 3.9, that is 4 square kilometers, a new large wind turbine would have to be deployed. 4km2 is 2km x 2km, meaning that Germany would have to be evenly paved with large wind turbines in a 2 km grid (!), to get by without gas.

Our Economy Minister, Robert Habeck, a Green party politician by heart and soul and in his pre-political life a talented fairy tale writer, could competently visualize this modern scenario in a children’s book: What would our country look like then!

We would all get infrasonic sick and dizzy from all the rotors running in the same direction (that’s as crass as in the movie “Modern Times” in its own way).

Germany is doomed if it doesn’t change course radically and immediately!

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