Gas storage facilities represent major elements in a reliable gas supply. Their use allows a stable and flexible provision of gas as an environment-friendly energy source. The gas storage facilities that are operated in Germany currently cover a total capacity of approx. 20 billion m³, so that Germany has the biggest storage volume in the EU.
But Germany also imports about 80% of its gas, mainly from Russia, Norway, the Netherlands and the UK. These import volumes are contractually specified and are continually supplied at consistent rates, irrespective of the actual demand and consumption situation, to ensure optimum capacity utilisation of production plants and transmission systems.
However, gas consumption is subject to fluctuations caused by the seasons and the weather. During the summer, when consumption is low, gas is stored underground and is subsequently withdrawn in winter when consumption is higher. On a cold day in winter the amount of gas that is required can be about six times as high as on a hot day in summer. The traditional function of gas storage facilities is therefore to compensate for seasonal fluctuations and for fluctuations during the day, thus warranting a continuous supply that is both safe and reliable. Gas storage facilities are an indispensable link between gas deposits and consumers. In addition, gas storage facilities also have important functions for gas traders and grid operators in the liberalised gas market.