SThe floating LNG terminals in front of Wilhelmshaven and at the mouth of the Elbe should only be the beginning: with a comprehensive expansion of energy, but also transport infrastructure on and off the North Sea coast, Germany should, according to the will of the Free Democrats of Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein, in the long term if possible independently of energy imports – and as quickly as possible from Russian natural gas supplies.
To this end, the production of natural gas and oil in the North Sea must be intensified in the short term, the number of offshore wind farms must be increased significantly in the medium term and artificial islands for the production of hydrogen must be anchored on the high seas.
The corresponding plans of Schleswig-Holstein’s Economics Minister Bernd Buchholz and Lower Saxony FDP Chairman Stefan Birkner emerge from an emergency request at the federal FDP party conference on April 23 and 24 in Berlin, which is available for WELT.
In it, the two politicians underline the “key national role” of the North Sea coast “in the promotion and import of fossil fuels, in the production, landing and use of renewable electricity and as an infrastructure hub for energy and mobility”. “The Federal Government, the Bundestag and the Länder parliaments are called upon to use the opportunities and the energy potential that the coast offers for the future security of supply of the entire Federal Republic,” Buchholz and Birkner said.
All of this should be implemented at Tesla’s pace and with little regard for local sensitivities and northern tourism. “The supply of the population and the economy with energy and heat ultimately weighs more heavily for us than a completely untouched view of the tourist areas on the coast and on the islands”, write the two liberal politicians in their candidacy. The basic principle: in case of doubt, for security of supply – and against dependence on Russian supplies of natural gas, oil and coal.
North Sea oil and gas production and floating wind turbines
To achieve this goal, Buchholz and Birkner advocate, among other things, “the development of our own fossil fuel reserves”. In other words, those gas and oil deposits in the North Sea that were considered untouchable for ecological reasons until Russia attacked Ukraine.
More specifically, this means a natural gas field under the German-Dutch maritime zone off Borkum and an oil field under the Wadden Sea, which could be exploited from the Mittelplate production platform anchored off Friedrichskoog. in Schleswig-Holstein.
Additional gas and oil production in the North Sea had been excluded from the coalition traffic light deal. A passage which, in the opinion of the three parties of the coalition, will not last in view of the new global deal.
Under Buchholz and Birkner’s proposal, federal and state governments should primarily rely on additional offshore wind turbines in the North Sea when expanding renewables. Their potential should be massively and rapidly increased. Environmental compatibility and species protection are still important, but “should not take priority over the protected human being” in the approval process, the document says.
This also applies to the anchoring of floating wind turbines – “floating offshore” technology – on the high seas and the installation of several artificial “energy islands” in the North Sea. The electricity produced in the open sea must be collected there, stored and transformed into hydrogen using electrolysis systems.
In the shorter term than the energy islands, temporary and then permanent LNG terminals for the landing of liquid gas should contribute to replacing Russian gas. They are to be built in Wilhelmshaven, Stade and Brunsbüttel, as Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) had already announced in his “Zeitenwende” speech in the Bundestag.
Planning approval not on site – but by the Bundestag
In order to be able to implement these projects as quickly as possible, Buchholz and Birkner are asking the federal government to complete the approval process for the power plants within the framework of the so-called legal planning.
In such a procedure, the approval of the plans would not be organized by the local authorities, but decided by the Bundestag. The possibility of appealing against corresponding projects must be reduced to a single court of appeal, the necessary environmental impact assessments must be simplified and accelerated, and immediate applicability must be ordered for construction law.
“In order to improve our security of supply as quickly as possible”, specifies the urgent motion, “everything must be considered to set up the LNG terminals as quickly and pragmatically as the construction of the Tesla giga-factory in the Brandenburg”.
In order to strengthen Germany’s energy security, the two liberals also suggest increasing the number and capacity of German gas storage facilities. Currently, the capacity of all German storage facilities is not even sufficient to cover the annual demand outside the heating period. It is therefore necessary to build new storage caverns and to reactivate the gas storage capacities in Germany which were closed in the past.
The FDP politicians are also concerned about a relatively conventional topic: the A20 coastal highway from Segeberg in Schleswig-Holstein via Glücksstadt to Westerstede in Lower Saxony is finally to be built. With it, the FDP wants to create for the first time “an efficient east-west axis in northern Germany” and at the same time “strengthen the maritime economy through the road connection of German seaports”.
According to Buchholz and Birkner, the project, planned since the beginning of the 2000s but never implemented, should be implemented as a priority as a “central project of the Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan”. For this, too, at least individual construction phases should be planned and approved in an accelerated process.
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