It could be the first step for the continued operation of the German nuclear power plants beyond the turn of the year: After weeks of pressure in view of the energy crisis, the Federal Ministry of Economics has commissioned another load test for the German power grid. That said a spokeswoman for Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) on Monday in Berlin. “On the basis of these results, a decision is then made as to what needs to be done,” she said of any extensions to the service life.
Back in March, shortly after the start of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Environment commissioned a so-called stress test. In the test report, it was conceded that the last three German nuclear power plants could stay on the grid a few months longer with the same fuel rods with reduced output in the summer. Because this does not generate any additional electricity, high costs arise and safety checks have been postponed for a long time, Habeck and Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) have long rejected stretching operations in the spring.
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Now it is to be checked again, since in addition to gas prices, electricity prices are also rising. “We’re going to calculate again and then decide on the basis of clear facts,” said the spokeswoman. Apparently, it is being examined what effect a complete failure of Russian gas supplies and problems with French nuclear power exports could have.
The spokeswoman emphasized that they had not acted ideologically before. The results would be available in a few weeks. In Germany, only the three nuclear power plants Isar II, Neckarwestheim II and Emsland are still in operation. They produce around six percent of Germany’s electricity.
“This does not call Germany’s nuclear phase-out into question,” said Green Party leader Britta Haßelmann of the German Press Agency. There is a social consensus for an exit. “Wanting to remedy a gas shortage with nuclear power is and will remain a bogus debate,” said Hasselmann. On the other hand, she did not clearly reject a possible stretching operation.
The Greens strictly reject a political horse-trading – extending the lifetime of the Akw for a speed limit – as the former Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) had discussed. “Maturity extensions do not make sense in the event of a gas shortage and a high-risk technology is not a party-tactical moveable mass,” wrote Green Party leader Ricarda Lang on Twitter. The proposal shows that the Union is not serious about the issue.
The energy policy spokesman for the FDP, Michael Kruse, welcomed the stress test as “necessary to realistically assess the dangers of supply in advance and to be able to react in good time.” Accordingly, it would have to be checked, among other things, how the increased demand for electricity due to private use of fan heaters in the winter months. “With the temporary continued operation of the current nuclear power plants, we can also prepare ourselves for the coming winter and actively counteract a power shortage,” Kruse told the Tagesspiegel.
Meanwhile, the federal government is apparently preparing for a further lack of gas supplies from Russia. The repair work on the Nord Stream I pipeline should actually be completed on Thursday. But the Chancellery is planning in case the lines remain empty.
In this case, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) wants to meet with the heads of the federal states for an extraordinary conference of prime ministers. The daily mirror learned from several state chancellery. Berlin’s governor Franziska Giffey (SPD) had previously called for such a gas summit.
Apparently, the government expects regional gas emergencies. If there are no gas deliveries from Russia, the government could activate the third and final stage in the gas emergency plan. Then the Federal Network Agency could start rationing gas in order to store it for the winter. The filling levels of German gas storage facilities have been stagnating for a week and are constantly at just over 64 percent.
The Federation of German Industries (BDI) demands that the supply of natural gas be re-regulated in the event of a shortage. “The current prioritization rules in a gas shortage were created for a short-term interruption of individual lines,” said BDI President Siegfried Russwurm.
“Politicians in Berlin and Brussels must create new regulations for the tough new energy reality. This has to hold all parts of society responsible according to their ability to perform.” Russwurm expects that Germany will face “a long-term gas shortage”.