The energy crisis threatening Germany may force the authorities to extend the service life of existing nuclear power plants, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz not ruling out such a scenario for the first time.
Three nuclear power plants are currently operating in Germany, and all of them should be disconnected from the grid at the end of this year. Proposals to postpone the shutdown began to sound in the spring, and the Minister of Economics Robert Habeck then said that there were no more “taboos” to ensure the country’s energy security.
However, Habeck himself, like many then, was against extending the stations’ service. The minister said that it was difficult, unsafe and unlikely to help significantly save gas, and the last three nuclear power plants do not play the most critical role in the overall energy balance of the country.
But over the past few months, the mood in the country has changed markedly. Now more than 70 percent of Germans believe that the question of nuclear power plants should be carefully weighed and, based on the results of this weighing, it is better to decide positively – leaving the plants in operation.
Among politicians, meanwhile, there is a reasonably strong “atomic” lobby, led by the Bavarians with their Prime Minister Markus Söder. Even part of the Greens now joins this lobby, considering the extension of the nuclear power plant operation time as a flawed, forced, but still necessary step.
Industrially developed Bavaria is highly dependent on Russian gas supplies and power plants there. At the same time, renewable energy in the land is not too advanced, and power lines connecting it with other regions of the country have insufficient capacity.
Existing gas pipelines are also unlikely to be able to pump the necessary volumes of energy from Northern Germany, even if these volumes are there.
Therefore, in the event of a cessation of gas supplies from Russia, Bavaria risks falling into a “perfect storm” when it does not have the energy itself or its alternative sources. The only hope is for the still operating second unit of the Isar nuclear power plant, located near the Lower Bavaria Landshut.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday after inspecting the now-famous Nord Stream 1 turbine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said for the first time that extending the life of German nuclear power plants “might make sense.” However, they do not provide energy for the entire country, but only parts of it.
“You know that, especially in Bavaria, the expansion of wind energy is moving very slowly. The fact is also that the expansion of power lines and the power grid to the south is not going as fast as planned. We have to consider all this along with all other problems,” the Chancellor said.
The German government is now conducting a second stress test to determine how useful nuclear power plants can be in a critical energy situation.
The results of the first test, conducted in May, were not in favor of nuclear power plants, but under pressure from the “nuclear” lobby, they decided to repeat the experiment – with more stringent conditions. Judging by the Chancellor’s statements, this time, the individual energy conditions of Bavaria will also be taken into account.