German Natural Gas and the Nord Stream 2

Connor Hasson
December 17, 2017

Submitted as coursework for PH240, Stanford University, Fall 2017

Energy Transition

Fig. 1: Transport pipes for natural gas crisscrossing Europe. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

By 2011, Germany had decided it needed to overhaul two of the pillars of its energy policy within a few quick years. It was decided that the dirty lignite coal that had powered its economic miracle must go because of its high carbon content. [1] Near the same time, the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Plant in Japan had a meltdown, leading to fears that this could happen in Germany as well. [1] These two converging issues led the country to a radical shift in its energy policy, called Energiewende, that would push the country towards renewables and away from coal and nuclear power. [1] However, the sun cannot always shine, nor the wind always blow, and there must be an underlying set of electricity plants that can provide when nature cannot. The least polluting fossil fuel is by far natural gas. But Germany, like Europe generally, imports the majority of its gas from Russia, in particular through the Nord-Stream pipeline. Now with plans to expand this pipeline, there is increasing controversy.

Nord Stream 2

The Nord Stream project stretches from west Russia, under the Baltic Sea, then into northern Germany to deliver large amounts of gas to Germany and the surrounding countries. So why is the delivery of a cleaner energy source so controversial? This can be explained by the poor relations with Russia at the moment and the worries that it will control too much of Europe's energy security and cannot be trusted. [3] Now, Gazprom, is attempting to double the capacity of this pipeline with the Nord Stream 2. [3] Much of the displeasure with the additional pipeline comes from the lack of need for the transit countries in the east, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, etc. This concern over Russian dominance in the energy market and the detour around eastern countries in delivering natural gas has this project up in the air as multiple countries must approve its construction. [2]

Fig. 2: The connection from Russia to Germany goes through other countrys' territories. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Will the Nord Stream 2 Happen?

It is tough to know whether this project will go through or not. All the necessary construction pieces are there, just not the legal ones. The project will have to be approved by Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. [2] All of them will be tough to convince. It is still possible for the EU to try and step in as well. Whatever the outcome, the completion date of 2019 looks like a lofty goal at this point with so many unknowns currently.

© Connor Hasson. The author warrants that the work is the author's own and that Stanford University provided no input other than typesetting and referencing guidelines. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] "Turning Energy Around: Coal and the German Energiewende," Stockhold Environment Institute, 2016.

[2] A. Shiryaevskaya and B. Parkin, "Plan Underway to Subdue Russian Gas With German LNG Terminal," Bloomberg, 26 Nov 17.

[3] D. Munteanu and C. Sarno, "South Stream and Nord Stream - Implications For the European Energy Strategy," Anáise Europeia 2, 60 (2016).