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Natural gas will continue to make an important contribution to the energy supply in Germany over the next few decades. Natural gas is only produced to a small extent in Germany. A good 90 percent of the annual volume is mainly imported from Russia, Norway and the Netherlands. The natural gas reaches Germany via pipelines and is then fed into the German long-distance pipeline and the downstream distribution network.

Important role in the energy transition

After mineral oil, natural gas is the second most important primary energy source in the German energy mix. In 2017, its share of primary energy consumption was 23.8 percent.

By far the most important market for natural gas is currently the heating market. Today, however, gas is not only used to generate heat. Natural gas can play an important role, particularly as a bridge between fossil and renewable energies in the electricity sector. Natural gas also has advantages in the mobility sector. Compared to other fossil fuels, natural gas is more climate-friendly, as its use is associated with lower CO2 emissions.

Infrastructure

The German gas network has a total length of 511,000 km. The pipelines that make up the gas network are of substantial importance for the transport and distribution of natural gas. They enable the safe delivery of a wide variety of gas quantities over long distances. Significant amounts of gas are transported to other EU countries via German territory.

The Network Development Plan (NEP) Gas contains measures for the needs-based expansion of the network and for guaranteeing the security of supply, which are necessary for safe and reliable network operation. Learn more.

Regulatory legal framework for LNG infrastructure

The market economy expansion of the LNG infrastructure in Germany is an important concern of the federal government. Against this background, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has adjusted the regulatory framework for the construction of the LNG infrastructure. In order to implement the key issues paper published on February 12, 2019, the BMWi developed the draft of the ordinance to improve the framework conditions for the development of the LNG infrastructure in Germany. The Federal Cabinet and the Federal Council have passed the ordinance (PDF, 782 KB). The adjustments apply from June 20, 2019.

You can find more information about LNG here.

Natural gas production in Germany: subject of fracking

In 2017, 7.2 billion cubic meters of natural gas (pure gas with a calorific value of Hs = 9.77 kWh / m³) were extracted in Germany through boreholes, some of which had previously been carried out using conventional fracking. Conventional fracking in the extraction of natural gas from sandstone has been used in Germany for many years and has been tried and tested over many years. Safety comes first when it comes to fracking: fracking is prohibited in sensitive areas. In addition, the federal government has clearly spoken out against the use of so-called unconventional fracking, for which no empirical values ​​are yet available in Germany. Learn more.

Play it safe when it comes to gas

Due to the high dependency on imports, the instruments of gas supply security play a central role. The natural gas supply situation in Germany is highly secure and reliable. Germany has the fourth largest gas storage capacity in the world. This is even a record in the European Union (EU): With almost 24.3 billion cubic meters, no country in the EU has more space to store natural gas.

In December 2015, the BMWi presented key points (PDF, 36 KB) to make the natural gas supply even more secure. Find out more about securing gas supplies and crisis prevention.

Trading and regulating the gas market

The German gas market is characterized by a large number of market players organized under private law in the areas of gas networks, storage operations and trading. There are currently two market areas (NCG and Gaspool), each with a market area manager - this is responsible for the efficient handling of gas network access and market activity. There are currently 16 gas pipeline companies operating on the German gas market; further actors are the distribution network operators, storage operators and trading companies. With the EU internal market package for the liberalization of the electricity and natural gas market, most recently changed with the third internal market package, the areas of activity of the market players are redefined. In order to promote competition, the operators of gas supply networks and storage facilities are being separated from natural gas trading. The electricity and gas supply networks are regulated by the Federal Network Agency and the state regulatory authorities.

Gas price and costs

As with other goods and services, natural gas prices are freely determined on the basis of supply and demand. The prices are based on different cost components.

The procurement costs include the gas purchase price and all transport costs. The distribution costs are all costs of forwarding the natural gas to the end customer. This also includes all costs associated with the expansion and maintenance of the natural gas network. The natural gas tax is based on the Energy Tax Act. It is used to tax the amount of natural gas consumed in the various areas of application.

The network operators have to pay the concession fee to the respective municipality, as they use public areas for laying and operating gas pipelines. You can find more information on gas prices here.

"Power to gas" perspective: Storing energy in the gas network

Another important and promising application is emerging for the gas network: By converting renewable electricity into methane and feeding it into the gas network, it could serve as a huge storage facility for several billion kilowatt hours of energy. Research and demonstration projects are currently ongoing with the aim of using this technology in the coming decades. Learn more.

Natural gas mobility

Advancing natural gas as a fuel is one of the means to reduce CO2 emissions from traffic, because natural gas vehicles emit no particles and hardly any nitrogen oxides. That is why the BMWi has started the so-called "Round Table on Natural Gas Mobility". The goal is a four percent share of natural gas in energy consumption in the transport sector by 2020. Find out more.