Germany may extend nuclear power beyond this year

August 22, 2022

Amidst the worst energy crisis in decades, Germany is considering extending the life of its three nuclear reactors beyond the self-imposed plan to permanently retire them by the end of the year.

The energy crisis in Germany fueled by a lack of natural gas imports from Russia and led to increased inflation and put a number of European nations at the risk of recession.

Politicians in Germany are now looking at all alternatives available, including atomic energy, a technology Germany had decided to exit permanently by the end of the year.

Speaking at a government open day in Berlin on Sunday, both Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Economy Minister Robert Habeck emphasized that while there’s an option of extending the lives of the nation’s three last reactors beyond December, it’s only under consideration because the current lack of natural gas from Russia.

Bloomberg reported that neither Habeck nor Sholz fully endorsed nuclear energy option. Habeck said it is not the most economical, nor the safest available for Germany and Scholz highlighted maintenance and repair issues in France as a reminder of the problems older plants are facing.

“What worries me is that there is no ready answer to the question of what happens when gas runs out,” Scholz said. “If we were to make the decision to keep them running so that we make sure we don’t have a problem this winter, then it will only make a small contribution to solving our challenge, because it is only about electricity production.”

The operators, including EON SE and RWE AG, have said that they are open to discussing such an option with lawmakers, but stressed the need for a swift decision. A study on security of supply that will help Germany to decide on the nuclear plants will be available by the end of the month or early September, Scholz said.

By contrast, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner was more bullish on the prospect of extending the lives of the reactors on a temporary basis. “There’s a lot to be said to use the three nuclear power plants that we have,” he said.

In the short term, reducing energy demand will make the biggest difference for Germany and all other nations pivoting away from Russian supplies.

Germany has urged citizens to lower their consumption and last week slapped a levy on gas use. It also seeks to bring back coal power plants that were being removed from the system and is investing in infrastructure to import more liquefied natural gas.

Gas stores are 78 percent full, according to the latest data from the Federal Network Agency, the country’s energy regulator.

About 60 percent of Germans are in favor of extending the life of the remaining nuclear power plants in Germany, according to an Allensbach poll for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published on Sunday.

 

 

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