Germany is facing its "biggest energy crisis ever," said German Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck on Thursday during a series of company visits in the south and east of the country.
The crisis is caused by Germany's over-dependence on Russia for energy supplies, a dependence that has increased in recent decades, Habeck told reporters.
"Within a few months and only a few years, we will ensure that we reduce this dependency," he said, referring to investments in hydrogen as "the future."
However, hydrogen will not yet be the solution for the coming winter, Habeck stressed, warning German households that they will have to pay hundreds of euros more for their gas bills than usual in the coming months.
Hundreds of euros more
Not only because the gas price has risen sharply, but also because gas suppliers will be allowed to pass on a charge to customers to cover their extra costs from October. How much this charge will be is not yet known, but Habeck estimates it to be between 1.5 and 5 eurocents per kilowatt-hour (KWh).
On an annual bill, it would therefore be a few hundred euros extra per household, he said, adding that there should be more clarity about the amount the charge will be by the end of August. Habeck added that families with financial problems will receive support, but he did not go into details.
In the meantime, Germany is further replenishing its gas stocks for next winter. Although Russian deliveries via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline have been sharply reduced since Wednesday – to just 20% of capacity – Habeck expects stocks to be further replenished.
"I cannot yet predict how much and at what price, but efforts are being made and public money is being released," he said.
In June, Germany already declared the second phase of its emergency gas supply plan, which will "remain as long as stocks are replenished," said Habeck. "Then we will see how the situation evolves this winter."
On Thursday, the price of gas on the international markets still stands at over €200/KWh – more than eight times higher than a year ago.