Mr. Löschel, you and other economists calculated early on that a gas embargo against Russia was "manageable". Has concern about energy security after the attack on Ukraine crowded out climate protection?

Jan Hauser

Editor in business.

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That's right. Energy should be clean, safe and affordable. For years, however, we have looked in particular at the fact that electricity is cheap. Security of supply has never been a priority – and that is now suddenly different. We still have a fossil-fueled energy system in which energy was cheap for a long time and climate damage did not play a special role. In the same way, everyone bought cheap gas without seeing how bad it is in total.

So Germany has become dependent on Russian energy supplies?

Yes, energy security, like climate protection, is a social dilemma. Each individual behaves quite rationally and uses seemingly cheap gas, coal or oil. As a result, the system remains fossil and 55 percent of natural gas comes from Russia. In the crisis, the true prices were revealed and we were presented with an expensive bill.

Despite everything, Germany has almost managed to supply energy this winter. Are you also optimistic about next winter?

So far, Germany has been very successful in obtaining more liquefied natural gas (LNG) and has also made massive energy savings. Now the new LNG terminals are being added. If we stay the course, we can be similarly optimistic for next winter.

Germany's last three nuclear power plants will be shut down in April. Do we still need them?

Actually, no. I had recommended greater use of coal-fired power plants, because the capacities are simply greater and the European emissions trading system captures the emissions again. This protection is important, but so far even the coal-fired power plants that have returned have not had any particular utilization. I didn't see any real dangers for a blackout.

Does nuclear power reduce electricity costs?

It could, of course, help. In 2009, I co-wrote the Energy Forecast 2030 to extend the running times. The result was that electricity prices could be up to 10 percent lower if transit times were extended. With the nuclear phase-out, politicians have made a balancing act – also on safety issues and waste. Last summer, too, I did not see the absolute need to keep nuclear power plants running longer. Electricity prices are also falling in tandem with gas prices.

Last year, there was a lot of talk about energy security. Can Germany still achieve its climate targets?

In 2022, we did indeed tread water with climate protection, but that will change. The profitability of coal power will be lost due to high CO2 prices and normalizing gas prices.

Do you expect a gas price of 20 euros per megawatt hour again?