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.

Contact

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                    [post_content] => If two different jurisdictions are involved in the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) chain, CO2 handling needs to be harmonized across borders and interface issues should be resolved (e.g. technical and operational standards, certification, transfer of ownership and risk, etc.). Similar to the imbalance which exists between the demand for fossil fuels between importing and exporting countries, suitable geological formations for CO2 storage may not exist in the highest-emitting countries, which calls for a need to export CO2 to countries with more suitable storage sites. It may also be in the interest of fossil fuel exporting countries to help their customers to dispose of CO2 stemming from imported hydrocarbons, as importing countries may have no other option due to the lack of sequestration potential (e.g. Japan). This will involve exporting and importing of CO2 across borders, relying on offshore transport by ships or via pipelines in most cases. Thus far, such examples include the transport of CO2 by onshore pipelines from the Boundary Dam project in Canada to the Weyburn project in the US, and the upcoming Longship project which envisages cross-border transport of CO2 via shipping from the UK and EU countries to Norway. All other projects so far have been within one jurisdiction. However, most recently (August 2022), Northern Lights signed a first-of-its-kind commercial agreement for cross-border CO2 capture and transport, where, from 2025, CO2 will be captured, compressed and liquified in the Netherlands, to be transported and stored in Norway. It is expected that other similar ventures will be established, making the publication of this study all the more timely.

This paper appraises a specific case study of cross-border CO2 transport from Germany to Norway. It is argued that the opportunity offered by Norway to sequester large volumes of CO2 under its shelf in the North Sea is one that Germany should use to meet its ambitious net-zero goal for 2045. While the infrastructure needed on both sides requires vast investments, coordination and regulatory and legal efforts, endeavours of comparable scale have been achieved by cooperation between both countries in the past such as the successful development of the Troll gas export project and the infrastructure linked to it both offshore and onshore and the development of its market in less than 20 years. One important conclusion is the need to develop a joint vision on the necessary development in the short time (and the limited size of the CO2 budget) left, and to create procedures and institutions needed for cooperation and coordination.
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                    [post_content] => The present German energy policy is focussed on further increase of renewable capacity and power consumption to achieve net zero GHG emissions by 2045 while maintaining security of energy supply.  The planned pace of the rollout of renewables looks ambitious but feasible and could result in phasing out substantial volumes of unabated coal-fired power production by 2030. However, it will miss the net zero target in 2045 by decades even if the issues surrounding the low readiness level of electrolysis and yet-to-be-provided hydrogen infrastructure, especially storage, could be resolved in time.  For a realistic chance to meet net zero in 2045 adding an ambitious CO2 capture and sequestration policy is essential. The present German legislation bars CO2 sequestration but CO2 capture and transport for export are explicitly possible. Norway with a sequestration potential of 70 Gt CO2 would be an obvious partner for Germany, but such a partnership would require the introduction of missing German standards and procedures to handle CO2 and ratifying the amendment of the London protocol by Germany. By adding a pragmatic CO2 sequestration policy such as those in the US, UK and the Netherlands, Germany would have a realistic chance to reach net zero by 2045 without jeopardizing its industrial basis.
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                    [post_content] => In Germany decarbonization of the electricity sector by fostering renewables and now phasing out coal-fired power is on track to reach the 2050 de-carbonisation targets, while decarbonising non-electric energy consumption is proving to be more difficult. The present discussion of a national hydrogen strategy has run into strong political opposition against carbon sequestration as a necessary element in the use of decarbonized natural gas (blue hydrogen), and is aiming at the use of green hydrogen only (from renewable electricity and electrolysis). This paper shows that as long as the power sector is not decarbonized - not likely before 2040 - only marginal volumes of renewable electricity will be available to produce green hydrogen. To meet the decarbonization target by 2050 blue hydrogen has to fill that gap, paving the way for green hydrogen at a later stage. The paper discusses the elements needed for an expedient development of blue hydrogen. It also points at the need, and instruments, to decarbonize core industries like the steel and chemical industry so that they can become future proof in competition with the US, which is more advanced with a decarbonization strategy for its industry based on carbon sequestration.
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                    [post_content] => As the European region continues to prioritise the decarbonisation of its energy system, Germany provides a fascinating case study of the potential gains and pitfalls from the introduction of renewables into the energy mix, in particular with relation to gas. In this extensive review of German energy policy and its impact over the past few years, Ralf Dickel analyses the reasons why gas has, to date, failed to make a strong case for a long-term role in the country, arguing that the gas industry has failed to make the important distinction between a carbon-free energy sector and an all-renewable energy sector.
                    [post_title] => The Role of Natural Gas, Renewables and  Energy Efficiency in Decarbonisation in Germany: The need to complement renewables by decarbonized gas to meet the Paris targets
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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.
                    [post_title] => Reducing European Dependence on Russian Gas - distinguishing natural gas security from geopolitics
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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