Ralf Dickel

Senior Visiting Research Fellow

Since leaving the Energy Charter Secretariat in October 2010 Ralf Dickel is working as an independent expert on international energy trade. In October 2004 Ralf Dickel joined the Energy Charter Secretariat as Director for Transit and Trade, after heading the Energy Diversification Division at the International Energy Agency since 2001, being responsible for Policy Analysis of Energy Markets and of Energy Market Reform. Before joining the IEA he worked as Senior Specialist for Oil and Gas Policy for the World Bank, after a long career with Ruhrgas from 1980 to 1998 where he held various managing positions both in the gas purchase and the gas sales department. He managed and co-authored several publications at the IEA and the Energy Charter, amongst them: Security of Gas Supply in Open Markets, IEA 200, and Putting a Price on Energy, Energy Charter 2007.

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                    [post_content] => There is limited scope for significantly reducing overall European dependence on Russian gas before the mid-2020s. Countries in the Baltic region and south eastern Europe which are highly dependent on Russian gas, and hence extremely vulnerable to interruptions, could substantially reduce and even eliminate imports of Russian gas by the early 2020s, by a combination of LNG and pipeline gas from Azerbaijan. Similar measures could reduce (but not eliminate) the dependence of central Europe and Turkey on Russian gas. However, Russian gas will be highly competitive with all other pipeline gas and LNG (including US LNG) supplies to Europe, and Gazprom’s market power to impact European hub prices may be considerable. Countries with strong geopolitical fears related to Russian gas dependence will need to either terminate, or not renew on expiry, their long term contracts with Gazprom.
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                    [post_content] => German Energy policy – in its current form the Energiewende - is the product of a complex evolution of overt aspirations of many of the parties in and out of governing coalitions since the turn of the century, and a covert fear of import dependency on Russian gas combined with ‘coal-mindedness’ – an affinity for the use of coal and lignite, despite the country’s net coal import position.

In this extensive and comprehensive paper, Ralf Dickel explains the political path by which Germany’s current energy policy was derived and in particular the way in which the Fukushima disaster on March 2011 finally catalysed an embedded desire to exit nuclear energy in many political factions to fulfilment through consensual legislation. Phased nuclear closure and a desire to achieve decarbonisation targets drove the many scenarios underpinning energy policy, but the role of gas was never explicitly addressed within the governing political mainstream.  The choice between gas and coal/lignite was comprehensively ‘ducked’ but as the abject failure of the ETS system unfolded it was convenient to ascribe such a choice as being ‘for the market to decide’.  At present a CO2 price of €50/tonne CO2 would be required to burn gas in favour of coal in German power plant.

Looking ahead however, the paper anticipates potential developments for which the maintenance of the German gas sector and its transmission grid would be much more positive (preserving options) than allowing gas to wither and coal and lignite to maintain dominance.  These include the continuation of biogas generation, gas with CCS (having superior investment economics than coal and lignite) and power to gas, via the Sabatier process, by which surplus renewable power generation could be stored as (zero carbon) gas and utilised by the existing transmission and storage system.
                    [post_title] => The New German Energy Policy - What Role for Gas in a De-carbonization Policy?
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Latest Publications by Ralf Dickel

Latest research by Ralf Dickel

Latest Tweets from @OxfordEnergy

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