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Berlin rethinks: maybe it’s better to keep nuclear power plants on

There are still 3 active nuclear power plants in Germany

(Sustainabilityenvironment.com) – The words spoken in Berlin are retracted. With Nord Stream 1 closed, Gazprom is calling for force majeure to stop supplies, and industrial sectors such as the chemical industry are saying that they have already cut all possible gas consumption, Germany is considering not closing its last nuclear power plants at the end of the year.

A stress test decides the fate of nuclear power plants

So far, the Scholz government has been adamant. The shutdown of nuclear plants started under Merkel must go ahead, even with the energy crisis and a relationship with Russia to the minimum. Since yesterday, the executive has become a possibilist. It all depends on the new stress test of the electricity grid that will be conducted in the coming weeks.

The government wants to reassess whether electricity supplies can withstand the winter even in the event of very strong shocks. Compared to the first poll last spring will be assumed more drastic conditions, said the Ministry of Economy and Climate Protection, led by Green Robert Habeck. Between the lines, one can guess that in Berlin nobody really took seriously the hypothesis that Moscow closed the taps completely. But now the hypothesis is quickly becoming reality.

The outcome of the stress test will determine the decisions of the government. But in the fan, a spokesman for the ministry said, there is also for the first time the option of extending the life of German nuclear plants.
“From the outset, the issue of nuclear power plants has not been ideological for the German government, but purely technical, has been subject to expert reviews and will now be subject to such reviews again in harsher circumstances,” the spokesman said.

Read also Holland puts 5 billion for 2 new nuclear power plants

Echo of a quid pro quo between the parties of the ruling coalition, probably. If the Greens continued to say no to nuclear – supporting the momentary strengthening of coal – the FDP liberals with the war in Ukraine had abandoned their traditional no to the atom. In exchange for rethinking Habeck & co, they may have offered the green light to put a speed limit on the highway. Flag size for the Greens, but so far remained out of the energy-saving measures.

What remains of nuclear power in Germany

On 31 December 2021, Germany shut down 3 of the country’s 6 power plants. The departure touched on the oldest installations: Brokdorf in Schleswig-Holstein, which was started in 1986, Grohnde in Lower Saxony, which has been in operation for 37 years, and Unit C in Gundremmingen in Bavaria, which has also been in operation since 1984. The Emsland nuclear power plants in Lower Saxony, Isar 2 in Bavaria and Neckarwestheim 2 in Baden-Württemberg are still in operation. In theory, the final phase-out of nuclear power is expected by 31 December 2022 at the latest.

The roadmap was decided by the Merkel government in 2011, in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. And since then, the stop date has never changed. The plants active today have an installed capacity of 4.3 GW (out of a total installed capacity for the electricity generation of 218GW), equal to 6% of the electricity needs of the country. The three sites shut down at the end of 2021 added an additional 4.25 GW of installed capacity.

Prolonging the life of power plants, however, is not an immediate operation. Plant shutdown is already underway, reversing the process takes time. By deciding now, Germany could expect to receive electricity from power plants by autumn 2023. Not before. At a time when diversification from Russian gas is proceeding as planned, the biggest problems will already be overcome. This is the opinion of the committee of experts interviewed by the government already months ago, which stressed that nuclear power plants should continue to work for at least another 3-5 years to ensure that the extension was repaid completely.

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