Germany steps closer to shale gas fracking

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27 February 2013, Gas

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Fracking in Germany is a politically delicate subject. Opposition to fracking is rife: the minister for ecology Peter Altmaier has expressed reservations, and the opposition Social Democratic Party supports a moratorium. The exclusion of groundwater zones in the draft law and the need for an environmental impact study for any project aims to address the concerns of the general public. In reality, fracking would be allowed in about 80% of Germany according to the Green Party.

The push for fracking is understandable: Germany has 2.3 trillion cubic meters of shale gas available to be extracted according to the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources. The country is currently committed to exiting nuclear generation by 2022, leaving a gap of 25% of its generation capacity that must be filled by gas or renewable energy.

Currently, Germany imports about half of its gas from Russia, and there are energy security concerns about taking even more Russian gas resulting from the Energiewende - a transformation of the German energy system to one that maximizes renewables but excludes nuclear. Since shutting down eight of its nuclear plants following the Fukushima disaster, 5.1% more lignite has been burned in Germany, and in 2012 CO2 emissions increased by 2% according to the Federal Environment Agency. Despite overall CO2 emissions from power generation and industry staying stable due to falling demand, coal substitution is unsustainable, meaning shale gas may prove too tempting to ignore.


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Source: MarketLine

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