Energy crisis – nothing but expenses?


A few months ago, this sight made me think of blackouts and wonder how we would get through the winter.

Of course, I am neither a stock exchange professional nor an energy market specialist. And maybe I’m getting it all wrong. After all, these are just thoughts running through my head.


When I look out of the window in my office in Metzingen, my gaze falls directly on a transformer station – with its huge transformers – an important hub for the energy supply here in the region. A few months ago, this sight made me think of blackouts and wonder how we would get through the winter.

It all started with the idea that we would suddenly run out of gas. Now, according to Spiegel Online, the head of the Federal Network Agency thinks it’s unlikely “that anything will go wrong this winter.” At the moment, it seems that what’s left of the energy crisis for all of us is higher electricity and gas prices. The German government boasts that it has avoided the worst by achieving the goal of filling gas storage facilities literally at any cost. Yes, whatever the cost. It was the governments’ hoarding purchases that led to the high prices on the energy market, one reads. The governments counter that without these hoarding purchases, speculators would have been able to exploit the situation for themselves. Then everything would have become much worse and more expensive with colder temperatures. Who is right? We will never know. But anyone who finds the time to take a step back and let the whole thing sink in will inevitably come to the idea that energy has never really been or is not in short supply, but is always about its price. Why, of all things, do many of the low-cost providers terminate electricity or gas supply contracts with end consumers?
Perhaps because some of these suppliers are not really energy companies, but simple traders. On the one hand, they buy certain quantities of electricity, which they sell at a profit markup on the other. Now, if prices on the energy market skyrocket to fantastic heights, while long-term contracts with private households bring in much lower revenues – well, what would a good entrepreneur do, who is supposed to make a profit on behalf of his shareholders? He wriggles out of the long-term, suddenly less lucrative contracts and sells the power to the highest bidder. We are simply witnessing the logical effects of the liberalization of the electricity and gas markets (2005-2007).
The prices for many basic services – from grain to electricity – have long since been regulated not by supply and demand, but by players on the trading exchanges – who naturally speculate on maximum profits.

Of course, I am neither a stock market professional nor an energy market specialist. And maybe I’m getting it all wrong. These are just thoughts that run through my head. But that’s exactly what I’m getting at. How often do we or do we still take the time to take a step back and look at the big picture? Shouldn’t we be especially prudent in such crises and think ahead on the one hand, but also look at where the crisis has its true origin? Of course, some of you will now say: Putin’s war of aggression is the cause! And of course that plays a full part in it. But is it really the cause of our high gas and electricity prices, or just a fatal trigger that broke the camel’s back? If Putin’s war is to blame for energy prices, why, in a globalized energy trade, have prices in the U.S. stayed low?

How often do we take the time to step back and look at the big picture?

Let me tell you why this concerns me so much. We are building an international company with Neura Robotics – and the location issue always plays a role. The high energy prices are threatening to unhinge our German economy for good and to drag many companies into the abyss. I don’t want to be part of that. But the issue has also caught us at Neura cold. It wasn’t until the beginning of 2022 that we decided to bring production from China back to Germany. We calculated that: It would be more cost-effective, more efficient, of higher quality to manufacture the robots in Germany. Our suppliers are also based in Germany. So we only saw advantages.
But now, with the significantly higher prices for energy, it is questionable whether our calculation will still work out. The developers’ computers run almost around the clock, robotics test stations and the production of the cobots draw a lot of power. As energy costs rise, all the components we manufacture also become more expensive. But should I stick to our electricity meter now? We’d rather try to find solutions. Our buildings in Industriestrasse in Riederich are equipped with PV systems. We get as much electricity as possible from the roofs and what’s left over we send to battery storage. My goal is to absorb the additional costs for electricity via solar energy, to become as self-sufficient as possible. But not every entrepreneur has this possibility. And a private household certainly not. And for the heat supply in our production halls, there is no alternative to gas in the short term.

I would like to trust politicians at all levels to find solutions so that we and other companies are not buried under a wave of costs. But I question whether current political action on these matters is based on long-term considerations and a view of the big picture. There’s a lot of money being spent on short-term fixes to the problems – but I don’t observe any debate about the causes that have been in effect for a long time.

Even though it has recently become somewhat out of fashion to profess the Christian values of our Western culture, I would like to do so once again here and point our leaders to an exciting biblical passage. Simply because it is thought-provoking. It says in John 8 verse 6: “But Jesus stooped down and wrote with his finger on the ground.” And there he is not on a nice walk on the beach with friends, but in the midst of a heated debate with nine wise provocateurs, surrounded by a crowd of people. And at the height of this exchange of blows, he decides not to counter the verbal attacks with anything. He withdraws from the situation for a moment, paints in the sand, goes into himself, gains distance and forces all bystanders to gain distance for a moment.

At the moment we have to be careful that these people, who glue themselves somewhere, do not become the perfect image of our society. Let’s not get stuck on our problems – let’s rather get them out of the world! We should finally see the current crises as opportunities instead of continually using them as justification for things that don’t work.
But to do that, perhaps we need to pause for a moment and try to regain our view of the big picture.