In the debate about longer nuclear lifespans, the CSU brings into play a nuclear phase-out only in 2027 and a restart of nuclear power plants that have already been shut down. “We will face Putin’s brutal attempt to destabilize the West through energy terror for a long time to come. In this situation, lifetime extensions for nuclear power by at least another five years are conceivable,” said CSU state group leader in the Bundestag, Alexander Dobrindt, of the “Welt am Sonntag”.
Putting decommissioned power plants back into operation involves greater effort. “But it is possible,” said the Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”.
Joachim Bühler, Managing Director of the TÜV Association, also sees it as technically feasible to restart the Brokdorf, Grohnde and Gundremmingen C plants, which were shut down at the end of 2021, in addition to the three nuclear power plants Isar 2, Neckarwestheim 2 and Emsland that are still in operation, and thus six plants over 2022 to continue because of the problems caused by the throttled gas supplies from Russia, as he recently told the Tagesspiegel.
The Greens in particular are facing a crucial test, the coalition partner FDP is allied with the Union on the issue, which is perceived as an affront. Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) told the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung” with regard to Isar 2: “If the stress test shows that Bavaria could actually have a serious electricity or grid problem, then we will evaluate this situation and the options that then exist. However, there is growing resistance from the Greens.
Former Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin warned his party in the Tagesspiegel against touching the Atomic Energy Act because the FDP and the Union would then try to push through the longest possible lifetime extension. He also warns the party leadership and the Greens ministers against allowing a so-called stretching operation with a term only extended by a few months because of the Bavarian problems with the Isar 2 power plant. “A stretching operation is also an extension of the service life. For this we have to change the Atomic Energy Act.”
Should it come to that, Trittin considers a party congress that will decide on this to be absolutely necessary. Instead, Bavaria should save more electricity. Green parliamentary group leader Britta Haßelmann also called it “obvious” what Söder, CDU leader Friedrich Merz and politicians of the FDP are actually about: “The withdrawal of the nuclear phase-out.” Nuclear power is a “dangerous and expensive high-risk technology”. Rather, one must focus on energy saving, efficiency and the expansion of renewable energies.
The boss of the energy group EnBW, Frank Mastiaux, has also expressed skepticism, since there are many hurdles and the actual periodic safety review, which takes place every ten years, would be necessary, this should have taken place again in 2019, but was not done by 2022 because of the nuclear phase-out . EnBW operates the Neckarwestheim 2 nuclear power plant.
According to the Society for Plant and Reactor Safety, a so-called stretching operation with the use of fuel elements that have not yet been spent is possible for at least 80 days in the operating German nuclear power plants. “Since a reactor unit loses around 0.5 percent of its output every day in stretching operation, it would still be at around 60 percent of its designed output after this period,” said GRS when asked by the Tagesspiegel.
In the event of a further extension of the service life, fuel elements could be ordered from the suppliers Westinghouse or Framatome, for example. “According to the manufacturer, at least 9 to 12 months are required for production.” In production, the problem is not so much the procurement of uranium, but rather the production of the construction materials, such as the cladding tubes and the spacers. The results of the stress test ordered by Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) should be available in August.
After the Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) had brought natural gas fracking into play in the north, since there are corresponding deposits here in Germany in particular, the Lower Saxony Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) emphasized: “Is it still possible? Dear Markus Söder, how about finally wind power in Bavaria.”
For years, the Free State had resisted the construction of large wind routes to transport sea wind power to the south and made little progress in expanding wind power on land for fear of damaging the landscape. Since there are now bottlenecks in Bavaria in particular and Austria can no longer supply Bavaria as much as before from its gas storage facilities, the CSU in particular is insisting more and more vehemently on extending the service life. However, the state government, made up of the CSU and Free Voters, has spoken out strictly against a repository for nuclear waste in Bavaria, although Bavaria had co-decided on the repository law for an open-ended search.