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Russia Ukraine War: Germany Disputes The Nuclear Shutdown Amid Concerns Over The Gas Supply

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  • The government has already granted utilities the go-ahead to restart 10 idle coal-fired power plants, six idle oil-fired power plants, and aims to also open the door for the restart of idle lignite-fired power plants.

Germany’s dilemma over whether to shut down its final three nuclear power facilities as scheduled at the end of this year is being fueled by growing anxiety over the effects of a potential Russian gas cutoff. Following the Economy Ministry’s announcement of a fresh “stress test” on the security of energy supplies in mid-July, the door to some sort of extension seemed to open a crack.

It is intended to consider a more challenging scenario than the one used in the earlier test, which was completed in May and determined supplies to be secure. Since then, despite tensions related to the Ukraine War, Russia has decreased natural gas supply through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany to 20% of capacity.

It claimed technological problems, which Germany claims are only a pretext for a power grab. Recently, approximately a third of Germany’s gas supply came from Russia, and there are worries that it would shut off the flow completely.

It is intended to consider a more challenging scenario than the one used in the earlier test, which was completed in May and determined supplies to be secure. Since then, despite tensions related to the Ukraine War, Russia has decreased natural gas supply through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany to 20% of capacity.

It claimed technological problems, which Germany claims are only a pretext for a power grab. Recently, approximately a third of Germany’s gas supply came from Russia, and there are worries that it would shut off the flow completely.

For the other two ruling parties, Scholz’s center-left Social Democrats and, notably, Habeck’s green-leaning Greens, calls for expanding the use of nuclear power are problematic. The Greens’ stance against nuclear power is fundamental to who they are; two decades ago, a Social Democrat-Green coalition government in Germany started the country’s transition away from nuclear power.

The current configuration of the nuclear exit was established in 2011, immediately after the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, by a coalition government led by then-Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Union and the Free Democrats. The three still-running reactors are supposed to shut down by the end of December.

Habeck has long claimed that maintaining those reactors would be technically and legally challenging and would not significantly alleviate the issues brought on by a gas shortage. He claims that natural gas is more important for heating and industrial processes than for producing electricity.

Early in July, he declared, “We have a heating problem or an industry problem, but not an electrical problem—at least not generally across the country. Germany generated 6% of its electricity from nuclear facilities in the first quarter of this year, and 13% from gas. “We must work to prevent an electrical crisis from compounding the gas situation,” added Lindner.

Some Greens have recently shown some receptivity to the idea of allowing one or more reactors to continue operating for a brief amount of time with their current fuel rods in the event that the nation experiences a power supply emergency, but not for an extended period of time. Others find the concept to be unimpressive.

According to renowned Green politician Juergen Trittin, who served as Germany’s environment minister when the nuclear phaseout was first proposed, that “is also a lifetime extension” for the reactors that would necessitate a modification to the current law, “and we won’t touch that.”
According to some, that is insufficient.

Friedrich Merz, the leader of the opposition, has urged the government to order fresh fuel rods for the remaining reactors right away. Alexander Dobrindt, a senior opposition legislator, asked for the restart of three already-shut reactors and said that, “in this situation, lifetime extensions for nuclear energy of at least five more years are conceivable.” And where is Scholz? Christiane Hoffmann, a government spokesperson, stated last week that he is awaiting the “stress test” findings, which are anticipated in the upcoming weeks.

The government has already granted utilities the go-ahead to restart 10 idle coal-fired power plants, six idle oil-fired power plants, and aims to also open the door for the restart of idle lignite-fired power plants. 11 additional coal-fired power stations that were supposed to shut down in November will be permitted to continue functioning.

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