Germany: Olaf Scholz opens doors for expanding nuclear power plants

PublishedAugust 3, 2022, 10:27 pm

GermanyOlaf Scholz opens the door to the expansion of nuclear power plants

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has hinted that he may delay Germany’s nuclear exit due to the risks of an energy crisis.

Faced with a stagnant gas crisis, Germany, like many other European countries, is seeking to offset it with other sources of energy.


Olaf Scholz on Wednesday paved the way for a life extension of the last three nuclear power plants in operation in Germany in the face of growing concerns about an energy crisis stemming from a gas standoff with Russia.

The latest nuclear power plants are “only relevant for electricity generation and only a small part of it,” but it “may still make sense” not to take them off the grid as planned, German chancellor. Germany decided in principle to phase out nuclear power later this year.

However, the scarcity of Russian gas supplies to Germany in the context of the war in Ukraine has once again raised the question of keeping the last power plants running longer than planned. Berlin is to make a decision in the coming weeks based on an ongoing examination, the second of its kind. “Then we will draw conclusions,” the chancellor said during a visit to Mülheim an der Ruhr.


He went to the industrial site of Siemens Energy, where a gas turbine, recently repaired in Canada, is intended to power the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline linking Russia with Germany. But for the time being, it remains blocked in Germany, and the reasons in Berlin and Moscow diverge. Olaf Scholz on Wednesday accused Russia of blocking the supply of this equipment, without which the gas pipeline, according to Moscow, cannot function normally.

Since mid-July, the pipeline has been supplying only 20% of its gas capacity. “There is no reason that could interfere with delivery,” and Moscow should simply “provide the customs information necessary for its transportation to Russia,” he hammered in. Russian operator Gazprom accuses Siemens Energy of failing to send the necessary documents to allow the turbine to restart, which the company denies.

“The sanctions regime in Canada, the EU and the UK, as well as the inconsistency of the current situation with Siemens contractual obligations, makes delivery impossible,” he said. “This tense and absurd situation is caused by Western restrictions and sanctions,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.

Nord Stream 2

On Wednesday, Gazprom enlisted the support of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who is very close to the Kremlin and Russian energy groups and implicated in Siemens. Berlin actually suspects Moscow in this case of using the turbine as a “pretext” for political pressure on Westerners in the context of the war in Ukraine.

During a recent meeting with Gerhard Schroeder, President Vladimir Putin assured that it is “technologically possible” in the absence of the ability to fully use Nord Stream 1 to supply gas through the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which “is ready for use at any time” – said Dmitry Peskov.

Under pressure from its allies, Germany ended up shutting down – before it went online – the much-controversial gas pipeline because it was supposed to increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas. This decision was made two days before the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

There are three factories

Faced with a stagnant gas crisis, Germany, like many other European countries, is seeking to offset it with other sources of energy. Raising the issue of stopping the nuclear power plant at the end of the year, decided in 2011 by Angela Merkel after the Fukushima disaster, would be a very strong political measure.

Three still operating nuclear power plants – in Bavaria, Lower Saxony and Baden-Württemberg – compete for 6% of Germany’s net electricity generation. However, the issue is dividing the government coalition, with Greens skeptical and FDP Liberals in favour.

Olaf Scholz justified his position by the fact that Germany had to show “solidarity” with other European countries whose own power plants are closed, as well as the slower than expected development of renewable energy sources in Germany. “This is especially true in Bavaria, where the development of wind power is slow,” he said in a defiance of this region, historically led by conservatives.


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