Dhe decision on longer operating times for the remaining three German nuclear power plants in the energy crisis is approaching. The Ministry of Economics wants to publish the results of the so-called stress test on the electricity system on Monday evening, which could result in the recommendation to extend the term over the winter. It is assumed that with the publication of the test, the first conclusions for the three remaining nuclear power plants will also be mentioned, said a person familiar with the talks from the Reuters news agency. According to Reuters information, the test at least suggests the continued operation of the Isar 2 and Neckarwestheim 2 reactors in two of the three scenarios tested. However, the third remaining Emsland nuclear power plant in Lower Saxony will not be needed over the winter.
In the nuclear phase-out, it was actually agreed that Isar 2 in Bavaria, Neckarwestheim 2 in Baden-Württemberg and Emsland in Lower Saxony would be the last reactors to be shut down on December 31st. In the course of the Ukraine war and the energy crisis, however, demands for an extension of the term from the Union and the FDP had become louder and louder.
The FDP does not go far enough: they want the term to be extended for years, also in order to be able to dampen the price of electricity. “In view of the worsening electricity crisis, the precautions for continued operation must be taken immediately,” says a decision by the party’s presidium. If this results in the need to procure further fuel elements, “the efforts for this must be initiated at short notice”.
Procuring new fuel elements normally takes months. The question of safety would then also become more acute during longer operation. The stretching operation with the existing fuel rods that is now being discussed could keep the southern German reactors in operation at least until the end of March if the output were reduced before winter.
For the Greens, whose fight against nuclear energy is part of their founding story, a decision to extend the term would be critical. In Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann is governed by a green prime minister, in Lower Saxony there are state elections in October. Leading Greens had not ruled out a stretching operation. “For us as a parliamentary group, it is clear that if the stress test is presented, we will of course discuss it calmly and derive from it what steps are necessary,” said parliamentary group leader Britta Haßelmann.
In the past, Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) had accused Bavaria in particular of being partly to blame for a possible power shortage. The country has not expanded wind power and delayed the construction of the line from the north.
But even in Baden-Württemberg there is a lack of wind energy that could supply electricity in winter. The Ministry of Economics is particularly critical of the situation there: Several coal-fired power plants are located on the Rhine, but are suffering from the low water. “Due to the very limited inland waterway transport, the coal stocks that have been built up could quickly be reduced,” says the “Energy Supply Situation Report” from the Ministry of Economic Affairs at the end of August, which is available to Reuters. The congested rail network also makes delivery by train difficult. In addition, electricity flows from Germany to France, since a large part of the nuclear power plants there are being overhauled. In addition, a lot of electricity is used for heating there in winter.
Continued operation of the nuclear power plant would raise a number of questions: On the one hand, the Atomic Energy Act would have to be changed. The security checks that have been overdue for years and were only suspended because of the imminent shutdown would have to be postponed again. After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, there were also more stringent requirements that the plants did not have to meet when they came to an end.
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