Nuclear power: Germany is expanding its last three power plants, “snubbed” for the Greens

Nuclear power: Germany is expanding its last three power plants, “snubbed” for the Greens

It is official. Germany’s last three nuclear power plants are set to be expanded as Europe faces an unprecedented energy crisis. “The legal basis will be created to enable the operation of the nuclear power plants Isar 2, Neckarwestheim 2 and Emsland beyond December 31, 2022 until April 15, 2023,” says the Chancellor in a letter to the government, which AFP was able to consult . .

So far, his coalition government had only agreed to maintain two of the three power plants beyond the originally planned end of the nuclear phase-out in 2022. The Emsland power plant in the north of the country was at the center of a showdown within the governing coalition of Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals, which was torn over solutions to the crisis. The Chancellor therefore made a final decision on Monday in an emergency, where the first European economy is trying to reduce its dependence on Russian energy imports, especially gas.

FDP Justice Minister Marco Buschmann praised Chancellor Scholz’s decision on Twitter. “Common sense prevails… This strengthens our country because it guarantees more grid stability and lower electricity prices,” he says happily, while nuclear energy currently produces 6% of net electricity generation in Germany. But this decision is a new blow to Germany’s economy minister, the ecologist Robert Habeck, whose friction with his financial colleague, the liberal Christian Lindner, is becoming increasingly clear.

Snub for the Greens

The Chancellor’s decision was “a snub for Habeck,” commented the picture on Monday. Meanwhile, Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) welcomed Mr Scholz’s “clarification” that, in her opinion, in no way meant a turning away from the possible phase-out of nuclear power. “Germany will finally phase out nuclear power on April 15, 2023,” there will be no “life extension” for power plants,” said Lemke confidently on Twitter.

The non-governmental organization Greenpeace called Scholz’s decision “irresponsible”. “The extension of the service life of nuclear power plants puts us all at an unjustified risk,” said Greenpeace Germany Managing Director Martin Kaiser. Initially, Germany, whose population is largely anti-nuclear, wanted to shut down its last three operating nuclear reactors by the end of 2022.

But Olaf Scholz’s government reversed that decision after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and decided in September to extend two of the three power plants still in operation until spring 2023, blaming France for its poor grid, in the context of the by Russia staged energy shortages after invading Ukraine. About twenty of the 56 reactors in the French fleet are actually unavailable due to maintenance work or corrosion problems. EDF has promised their phased restart by February 2023.

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The German Liberals would like to go beyond spring 2023 and keep the three plants running longer, while the Greens are historically deeply opposed to nuclear power. In the face of looming energy shortages this winter, the federal government has already decided to increase the use of coal, a particularly polluting energy, with the extension of the operation of several coal-fired power plants until spring 2024 and a goal of phasing out this energy by 2030.

In a recent interview on German television, the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg preferred the continued use of the nuclear power plants currently in operation in Germany to coal. The timetable for the nuclear phase-out was decided by Angela Merkel after the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011.


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