German Chancellor to negotiate energy partnership in Canada
Berlin, Aug 22: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his deputy and Minister of Energy and the Economy, Robert Habeck, are in Canada on Monday, seeking to arrange short-term gas-based energy solutions and to explore longer-term, cleaner ones involving things like green hydrogen.
Speaking on German television from Montreal early on Monday, Scholz's deputy Robert Habeck said Germany's most pressing problem was not gas availablity, but "the availability of an appropriate infrastructure."
During the three-day visit, Habeck and Scholz want to strengthen cooperation with the world's second-largest country through talks with Justin Trudeau, aiming to secure appropriate infrastructure in the medium-term future.
The focus of the negotiations will lie on the supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and green hydrogen amid Germany's attempt to lessen its dependence on Russia as a supplier of gas.
Alongside their staff, security personnel and journalists, 13 managers including the CEOs of Volkswagen, Bayer, Siemens Energy and Uniper accompanied the two top-tier politicians.
Agreements on LNG and green hydrogen for the medium-term
But both options will only become useful to Germany in the medium-term and won't be able to offer a solution to the country's fear of an energy shortage during winter, as Canada currently holds no LNG terminals for export.
To become less dependent on Russia, infrastructure other than the Russian gas pipelines would be necessary in Germany, too, as Habeck said from Montreal early on Monday on German television.
"In Germany, the problem is not the availability of LNG - that's always reported, but that's not the case. In Germany, the problem is the availability of an alternative infrastructure to the Russian gas pipelines. We are building temporary facilities and then permanent terminals and there is gas for those," Habeck said on ZDF's "Morgenmagazin".
Habeck also talked about the economic unrest triggered in recent months in part by the war in Ukraine, and German government efforts to combat it by diversifying their energy supply.
Analysis from DW's Nina Haase in Montreal
It"s not very often that the Chancellor and his deputy, the economy and climate minister, travel together. And it"s even rarer that an official trip to North America travels to Canada only and not to the US as well. According to government officials, it"s the first time ever.
The trip by German chancellor Olaf Scholz and his deputy, Economy and Climate minister Robert Habeck, is about intensifying something bigger and something long-lasting.
In its attempt to wean itself off Russian energy, the German government has been looking around the world to identify countries that can replace Russian energy sources. Canada's an obvious choice — not only because of its big natural resources and untapped potential, but also because it's a democracy.
Canada is currently one of a diminishing list of reliable partners for Germany outside of Europe over the next decades — be it in the field of energy or when faced with geopolitical challenges.
What's next on the German delegation's three-day tour?
Scholz and Habeck are scheduled to travel to Toronto on Monday, where they will attend a German-Canadian economic conference alongside Justin Trudeau.
On Tuesday, the chancellor and his deputy will carry on to Newfoundland, to highlight the development of hydrogen technologies and hydrogen supply chains in the remote town of Stephenville. They are expected to sign an agreement on green hydrogen during the visit.