“Would be negligent”: FDP and SPD strictly against Habeck’s gas network shrinkage

“Would be negligent”
FDP and SPD strictly against Habeck’s gas network shrinkage

The traffic light threatens to reignite the dispute over the heating law. Economics Minister Habeck plans to dismantle the German natural gas network until it becomes climate neutral. There is vehement resistance from the SPD and FDP. The coalition partners are warning the Green politician not to rush.

The FDP has spoken out against the prospect of dismantling the gas distribution networks. “As the FDP parliamentary group, we view the technological development and future availability of hydrogen much more optimistically than the Federal Ministry of Economics seems to do,” said FDP parliamentary group vice-president Lukas Köhler to the “Rheinische Post”. In his view, there is no basis for presenting hydrogen as a future energy source “as scarce and expensive from the outset.” “Therefore, further discussions about the closure of gas networks are completely inappropriate,” emphasized the FDP politician. The background is plans from the green-led Federal Ministry of Economics that are intended to allow municipal utilities and other suppliers to dismantle their gas distribution network. The gas distribution networks in Germany are currently more than 500,000 kilometers long.

The SPD also warned against a hasty dismantling of the gas distribution networks. “The future of the gas network depends on various factors, including the upcoming municipal heat planning, which must be presented by law by mid-2026 for municipalities with over 100,000 inhabitants and by 2028 for municipalities with less than 100,000 inhabitants,” said the energy policy spokeswoman for the SPD parliamentary group, Nina Scheer, the paper. The design of the power plant strategy, the design of possible decentralized capacity mechanisms, further developments to the hydrogen core network and further plans to retrofit existing gas networks will also have an influence, says Scheer. She emphasized: “To question or reveal gas networks regardless of these developments would be negligent.”

Ministry: Disconnect and dismantle connections

The Greens defended the plans from Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck. “Even today, not every private house is connected to the gas network. In 50 years, there will actually be fewer than today,” said the energy policy spokeswoman for the Green parliamentary group, Ingrid Nestle, to the newspaper. Depending on their local circumstances, municipalities would decide where to rely on district heating, hydrogen or biomethane. Or on decentralized heat generators or cold local heating networks, says Nestle. “With municipal heating planning, customers receive planning security in the event of a heating replacement when it comes to the question of which heating system they should choose,” the Green politician continued.

In view of Germany’s planned climate neutrality by 2045, a paper from the Ministry of Economic Affairs stated that it must be clarified in good time how further expansion into natural gas supply can be avoided and “under which conditions existing gas network connections may be separated and dismantled”. In the months-long bitter dispute within the traffic light coalition over Habeck’s heating law, the FDP pushed through against the resistance of the Greens to include hydrogen technology as a possibility in the law.

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