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Energy crisis: This is how large corporations want to save gas

2022-08-03T08:48:56.796Z

Industry is one of the largest natural gas consumers in the country and must now adapt to the energy crisis. What the companies are planning - and where they see limits.



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Thyssenkrupp steel mill: conversion "not possible"

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Jochen Tack / IMAGO

Uncertainty is high, as is consumption: In view of an impending gas crisis, politicians are calling for energy saving.

In addition to private households, this also affects industry and large companies, which consume a large part of the natural gas used in Germany.

Steel: hardly any potential for savings?

The largest German manufacturer Thyssenkrupp is preparing for interruptions or restrictions “in various scenarios”, according to a group spokeswoman.

In the steel industry, natural gas is required to generate heat, for example for rolling or in the coking plant.

Less gas means less production.

This can be "accompanied up to a certain threshold." However, a minimum purchase is indispensable for maintaining the processes, otherwise one cannot rule out shutdowns and damage to the system.

Thyssenkrupp sees little potential for savings in gas: "A switch to oil or coal is not possible in our production processes."

According to the group, Salzgitter AG from Lower Saxony, the number two in Germany, is also dependent on natural gas in several processes.

However, they want to keep their use to a minimum.

Partial quantities could be replaced with oil.

In addition, the so-called waste gases, which are produced as by-products, are increasingly being used.

In the medium term, Salzgitter wants to switch the production of pig iron from coking coal to hydrogen – but natural gas mixtures will also be used here for a transitional period.

Automotive Industry: Can use coal and gas

The automotive industry uses large amounts of gas to supply the factories with energy.

Electricity is partly generated in our own facilities.

The Volkswagen group, for example, is currently converting the power plant at its Wolfsburg headquarters from coal to gas.

"We are in a position where we can use both energy sources," said Chief Financial Officer Arno Antlitz in the spring, shortly after the war in Ukraine began.

However, VW does not want to comment on the consequences of complete delivery or import stops.

The competitor Mercedes-Benz is worried about an impending gas shortage.

The Stuttgart-based company is preparing to reduce consumption at the German locations by up to half if necessary.

According to CEO Ola Källenius, there is an emergency plan.

Electricity from gas combustion should be replaced as often as possible with electricity from renewable sources.

In addition, general energy savings are planned, and oil could also be used if necessary.

Källenius is cautious: "We don't know what will happen." One is in conversation with the Federal Network Agency.

As an automotive supplier, Continental is also affected by the energy crisis.

According to the Hanoverians, the proportion of gas in the energy mix is ​​significant.

Individual locations are vulnerable to varying degrees - "from not being affected at all to the use of natural gas purely for heating purposes, to generate process heat to the use of gas directly in the production process".

The company did not want to give any details.

Chemicals and pharmaceuticals:

The savings potential for the largest consumers is said to be limited

With a share of 15 percent, the industry is the largest gas consumer in Germany.

Here, natural gas is not only an indispensable source of energy, but also a raw material that is used in many end products.

The German Chemical Industry Association (VCI) sees little potential for reductions: by using other fuels, only 2 to 3 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy from gas could be saved in the short term – companies would need around 135 billion kWh per year.

VCI Managing Director Wolfgang Große Entrup said in mid-July that they are "currently doing everything they can" to "raise even the very last gas-saving potential."

More recently, however, more optimistic voices have been heard.

Even if the gas emergency level is declared, BASF expects the Ludwigshafen main plant to continue operating.

According to CEO Martin Brudermüller, the gas that is still available should therefore be sufficient to maintain operation with a reduced load.

The Darmstadt-based Merck Group sees itself prepared for a shortage.

"We are prepared to then shift our production processes to oil, among other things," said boss Belén Garijo of the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung".

Mechanical engineering:

short-term savings potential of 20-40 percent

Even in the sector, which is strongly characterized by medium-sized companies, the level of concern varies depending on the company.

For the entire industry, Matthias Zelinger, energy expert from the VDMA association, estimates that companies could get by with 20 to 40 percent less gas for a short time.

In a survey at the end of June, almost a third of machine builders stated that they were preparing for a shortage.

About three quarters of these companies are examining what options they have themselves - for example by installing electrical or oil-fired back-up systems.

A third already had staggered contingency plans in place.

Bahn: Employees should get a bonus for saving energy

With an annual consumption of around 10 billion kilowatt hours, the state-owned group is the largest single electricity consumer in Germany.

Last year, natural gas made up 6 percent of the electricity mix, coal more than 20 percent and regenerative energy sources around 62 percent.

HR Director Martin Seiler refers to measures such as energy-saving driving in long-distance and regional transport or the replacement of fossil heat with alternative heating systems.

The railway also relies on the motivation of its employees.

The workforce is to receive a bonus of 100 euros per head, which will be increased to 150 euros if everyone saves enough energy.

This involves, for example, being particularly careful with lighting, heating, the use of air conditioning or refuelling.

The main aim of the incentive system is to reduce energy consumption in buildings and at train stations.

Deutsche Bahn does not say how high the potential is and what the specific scope of the savings should be.

Deutsche Telekom

: Offices could get colder

As one of the largest IT and service companies in the country, the Bonn group is a major energy consumer.

According to the company, initiatives for more energy efficiency are taken very seriously.

You have a potential gas embargo in mind.

In the offices, the applicable workplace guidelines apply with the appropriate temperatures, for light activities while sitting, this is around 20 degrees Celsius.

Permissible minimum temperatures for heating or maximum temperatures for air conditioning are an issue in many companies.

Smaller companies and regional chambers: Many companies can save

The Chambers of Industry and Commerce (IHK) have asked members in several countries about their concerns about future gas supplies.

In Lower Saxony, for example, a good two-thirds of the often smaller companies see opportunities to reduce electricity requirements by up to a tenth.

For natural gas it is 62 percent.

Authorities and politicians would then have to quickly approve the necessary conversions.

According to the IHK Dresden, many companies in Saxony are preparing to save natural gas or replace it with liquid gas and oil firing.

jlk/dpa

Source: spiegel

All business articles on 2022-08-03

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