Gas crisis encourages Germany to think about extending the life of nuclear power plants

Gas crisis encourages Germany to think about extending the life of nuclear power plants

A general view of the nuclear power plant, whose last unit will be closed down at the turn of the year, in Gundremmingen, Germany, 29 December 2021. REUTERS / Lukas Barth

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BERLIN, July 18 (Reuters) – Germany could extend the life of its three remaining nuclear power plants, the Ministry of Economy said on Monday, as public support increases in the face of a possible cut-off of Russian gas.

Germany’s remaining nuclear power plant is scheduled to close at the turn of the year after former Chancellor Angela Merkel promised to phase out nuclear power following the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan in 2011.

The three plants accounted for 6% of Germany’s power production in the first quarter of 2022.

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An initial assessment by the Ministries of the Environment and Economic Affairs in March did not recommend extending the life of the facilities, citing legal, licensing and insurance challenges, the need for extensive and possibly costly safety checks, and the lack of fuel rods to keep the facilities running.

But falling Russian gas supplies to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline have strengthened pro-nuclear voices in Germany and Europe ahead of a dreaded electricity crisis this winter.

The ministry said that the network operators had requested a new assessment of the viability of nuclear power.

“We will now recalculate and then make a decision based on clear facts,” a ministry spokesman said, adding that the results of the new evaluation were expected within a few weeks.

Members of the conservative opposition bloc CDU / CSU have accused the Green Party, which controls the Ministry of Finance, of the government’s opposition to changing tactics in the matter, and said that this was purely ideological. read more

But Deputy Government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann said the issue of extending the terms was a technical issue for the government, not an ideological issue.

The new assessment will assess the potential impact of higher gas prices on electricity prices, more serious gas supply disruptions and a halt in the production of French nuclear power plants, a document from the Ministry of Finance showed by Reuters.

The stress test will also assess the special situation in southern Germany and in the state of Bavaria, where the Isar II nuclear power plant will be closed at the end of the year.

The state is dependent on gas power plants and has few coal power plants and low wind power production, it added.

On Sunday, Bavarian Economy Minister Hubert Aiwanger called on the federal government to extend the life of its nuclear power plants.

– When the Greens say that nuclear power can not be used to heat an apartment or that we do not have an electricity problem, but a gas problem, then it is complete nonsense, Aiwanger says to the newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine.

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Reporting by Markus Wacket and Riham Alkousaa, editing by Nick Macfie and Bernadette Baum

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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