Natural gas

Natural gas is an efficient, cost-effective fuel – as well as a key element in the transformation of energy systems and the energy mix of the future. The use of natural gas reduces costs and is essential for security of supplies in the power and gas sectors, for the heat energy market and for mobility. As regards environmental friendliness, natural gas has decisive advantages against other fossil fuels. Its high flexibility makes it the ideal partner to the rapidly growing renewables sector.

Natural gas infrastructure in Germany consists mainly of transmission and distribution systems as well as storage facilities. These storage facilities play a key role of supply security and price stability as most of the natural gas used in Germany needs to be imported.

Large natural gas storage facilities, mainly located underground, can be used to compensate for fluctuating demand and peak loads on the gas system rapidly, effectively and economically. Gas storage facilities can also support the operation of gas transmission systems.

Security of supplies

The above-ground and underground storage facilities in Germany can store large quantities of natural gas. Round-the-clock, up to 25% of annual natural gas demand in Germany is available to industrial, commercial and domestic consumers from storage facilities located throughout the country. Even in the case of extremely high gas demand or supply disruption, gas storage facilities ensure reliable supplies, without any significant risks with respect to prices, production failures or safety. Storage facilities make a key contribution to the success of Germany as an industrial location and to safeguarding employment.

Germany – the world number four in terms of gas storage capacity
Germany has the fourth-largest underground storage capacity for natural gas in the world – after the USA, Russia and Ukraine. To a very large extent, we are dependent on natural gas imported from producer countries such as Russia, Norway or the Netherlands. Once the gas has been imported, storage facilities ensure uninterrupted supplies under all conditions, rapidly, reliably and flexibly.

Storage for secure supplies
Underground storage facilities can accommodate very large quantities of natural gas and make gas available at any time whenever the need arises. For example, during the cold spells throughout Europe in February 2012, German storage facilities covered more than 50% of peak daily natural gas demand, preventing a gas shortage in Germany and neighbouring countries.

Economic optimization of infrastructure thanks to gas storage
Even with declining natural gas production in continental Europe in the future, storage facilities will remain important for secure supplies based on imported gas. They make the entire system more cost-effective because they reduce the need for additional supply infrastructure. Existing gas infrastructure can also be used directly and indirectly to compensate for the volatility of electricity supplies from wind and solar power facilities.