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Global Economy

Scholz is considering longer nuclear power plant use

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz has shown himself open to longer operating times for the last three nuclear power plants that are still connected to the grid in Germany. With a view to the gas crisis, Scholz said that the power plants are "only relevant for electricity production and only for a small part of it". Nevertheless, "that can make sense," said the SPD politician. Actually, the operation of the nuclear reactor should be stopped at the end of the year.

Stress test as a basis for decision-making

The decision will be made on the basis of a stress test for the power supply, the results of which will be available soon, said Scholz. As justification, he pointed out, among other things, that "in Bavaria, in particular, progress has been made very slowly with the expansion of wind energy".

The expansion of the transmission network to the south did not progress as quickly as planned, said Scholz. This is taken into account in the "very, very strict stress test" for electricity production in Germany. This stress test will soon be over.

The Federal Chancellor also pointed out that the gas storage facilities in Germany are currently better filled than in previous years and that the planned new liquid gas terminals should go into operation from the end of the year. This will significantly improve Germany's opportunities for gas imports independently of Russia.

Coalition partner FDP calls for longer terms

Because of fears of a stop in Russian gas deliveries, the FDP and the Union in particular are demanding an extension of the nuclear power plant runtimes. Federal Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger reiterated the demands of her party: "Operating the nuclear power plants for a few months longer will not be enough," the FDP politician told the newspapers of the editorial network Germany. Rather, "non-ideologically, continued operation until 2024" should be discussed. The minister dismissed security concerns.

CDU General Secretary Mario Czaja asked Chancellor Scholz in the "Rheinische Post" to ensure clarity in the debate. "In view of the energy crisis, which is getting worse from day to day, it would be negligent and irresponsible to do without climate-friendly nuclear power," said the CDU politician.

According to current law, the three power plants still connected to the grid would have to be taken off the grid at the end of December. So far, the SPD and the Greens in particular have been skeptical. The Greens also no longer want to generally rule out at least temporary continued operation in the event of a crisis.

In particular, a so-called stretching operation for the Bavarian nuclear power plant Isar-2 is under discussion. In the case of a stretching operation, the nuclear power plant output would first be throttled in order to then be able to use the fuel elements in the plant for a few months longer. This could help alleviate winter bottlenecks, proponents argue.

Environmentalists: Debate blocks energy transition

The environmental umbrella organization Deutscher Naturschutzring (DNR) meanwhile warned that the debate about longer terms is hindering the necessary implementation of the energy transition. "The debate about extending the service life distracts from the need for consistent savings and blocks the energy transition," explained DNR President Kai Niebert.

In a joint statement with the German Federal Youth Council (DBJR), the DNR again rejected moving away from the nuclear phase-out. "Nuclear power is a catastrophe for all coming generations, who will have to monitor the energy policy mistakes of the past in unsafe repositories for millions of years," warned Niebert. Anyone who now wants to issue new operating licenses or even order new fuel rods "is exposing young people in the country in particular to incalculable risks," said the DNR President.

In view of a possible stretch operation for the Isar-2 nuclear power plant. Niebert expressed his skepticism: "An extension of the running time disguised as a stretching operation makes neither a contribution to security of supply nor to affordable electricity prices," he said.

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