Germany is desperately trying to boost its energy security after Gazprom announced last week that the Nord Stream 1 pipeline transporting gas from Russia to Germany had been suspended indefinitely following reports of a gas leak. The largest pipeline flowing from Russia into Europe, the Nord Stream 1 transported gas under the Baltic Sea to European states such as Germany.
With gas flows through that pipeline halted, Berlin’s economy minister, Robert Habeck, announced on Monday that two of the country’s power plants, Neckarwestheim in Baden Württemberg and Isar 2 in Bavaria, will be kept running longer than previously planned.
These plants will be kept open in order to be used as an emergency reserve until the middle of next year.
Energy and Commodities expert Javier Blas tweeted: “In what’s one of the most baffling energy policy decisions of 2022, Germany sticks to closing its three remaining nuclear power stations in December.
“But then it U-turns itself, keeping two of them in reserve until April 2023 for emergencies. But are we not already in an emergency?
“And just as a note: coal-fired power stations generated roughly 30 percent of the electricity produced in Germany in the first half of 2022, ahead of every other source.”
Mr Habeck noted that, following a stress test carried out with four grid operators looking at worst worst-case scenarios, the government had concluded that “hourly crisis-like situations in the electricity supply system during winter 22/23, while very unlikely, cannot be fully ruled out”.
However, he insisted that Germany had “very high supply security” and that the two nuclear plants will remain “on standby until mid-April 2023”, producing electricity only when needed.
These plants were scheduled to be shut down by the end of December, following plans laid down in 2011 by then Chancellor Angela Merkel following the disaster at Fukushima.
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Such a statement by Mr Habeck, a leading member of the staunchly anti-nuclear Greens, would have been unthinkable a year ago.
However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the threat of Putin cutting off gas supplies led to nuclear power being thrust back into public debate.
Finance minister Christian Lindner, who is head of the FDP backed plans to open up nuclear energy, saying: “In the winter, our towns and cities will in part be darker because of the fact we have to save electricity.
“In this situation, we should not forgo safer and climate-friendly ways of producing electricity such as nuclear power. This requires more than just extending their operation.”
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