German government proposes limited ‘high-risk’ nuclear expansion

Two of the three remaining German nuclear power plants are not expected to be completely offline as planned at the end of this year, but will instead remain in an emergency reserve until mid-April 2023 to provide backup to the power grid if needed. said Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck. said in Berlin.

The Minister for the Greens presented the results of a network “stress test” carried out over several weeks by German transmission system operators, which revealed that keeping the two nuclear power plants in the south of the country operational could help avoid network bottlenecks in extreme situations during the upcoming winter.

The power plants, Isar 2 in Bavaria and Neckarwestheim 2 in Baden-Württemberg, will be put on standby several months after the scheduled end date of December 31 to possibly “contribute to certain stressful situations on the electricity network”.

The Emsland plant in northern Germany will be dismantled as planned. Habeck’s ministry proposal must now be debated by the government and parliament, as legislative reforms are needed.

The decision means Germany will stick to a nuclear phase-out as regulated by law, Habeck said. The new fuel elements would not be loaded and the new reserve would be complete by mid-April 2023.

“Nuclear power is and will remain a high-risk technology and highly radioactive waste will burden many generations to come,” Habeck said.

The results of the stress test had been awaited for weeks, as the energy crisis in Europe pushed gas and electricity prices to unprecedented levels and raised fears of collapsing household and business budgets due to unaffordable energy bills as well as possible gas rationing that could cause lasting economic damage. in entire industries.

While Habeck’s Green Party and Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats (SPD) have insisted that delaying the phasing out of nuclear power in a so-called “extended operation” mode would only be an option for several months into the next year, Finance Minister Christian Lindner, of their coalition partner the Free Democrats (FDP), had joined the conservative opposition CDU/CSU alliance in demanding a longer extension of several years.

That would include buying new nuclear fuel rods and changing the country’s carefully balanced nuclear exit law.

The FDP and opposition parties point to a change in attitude among German citizens, whose rejection of nuclear has plummeted in the wake of the energy crisis, but the SPD and the Greens have ruled out any extension.

Due to the risks of the technology, “a radical extension of the runtime is not justifiable, also with regard to plant safety standards,” Habeck explained.

Any changes to the existing German nuclear phase-out law would therefore only result in a limited extension of the runtime until the spring of next year.

The minister said he does not expect factories to be turned off and on multiple times. If Germany decides to keep the plants online for the coming winter – a decision that could already be taken in December – then the plants would operate continuously until April.

Following intensive monitoring of the electricity supply situation, the Ministry of Economy would propose to grant the power plants a limited extension of the operating time. The network agency would then recommend removing them from the reserve. The final decision must then be taken by government decree with the possibility of objection by parliament.

In an interview with public broadcaster ARD following his announcement, Habeck vehemently dismissed concerns that the decision to limit the runtime extension could jeopardize security of supply.

“Germany’s energy supply is secure, we have enough energy and our grid is secure,” he said.

This article was originally published by Clean Energy Wire. Reproduced here under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0)”. Read the original version here.

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