Germany might not be able to replace all its Russian natural gas imports this winter and may have to resort to nuclear power to fill the gap.
Europe is currently in its worst energy crisis in decades. This has fuelled inflation and brought nations to the brink of recession. This is forcing politicians to examine all options, including atomic energy. Germany had previously decided to leave permanently at the end of this year.
At a Berlin government open day on Sunday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Economy Minister Robert Habeck, stressed that there is an option to extend the lives of the nation’s last three reactors beyond December. However, this is only being considered due to increasing concerns that Europe’s largest economy will not be able to replace declining natural gas supplies from Russia.
Although it is not the first time that the government has suggested the possibility of using nuclear power for longer periods than originally planned, these comments are becoming stronger. Habeck stated that the technology is neither the most cost-effective nor the best for Germany. Scholz pointed out the French maintenance and repair problems as a reminder of the difficulties older plants face.
Scholz stated that “What worries me most is that there isn’t a ready answer to the question about what happens when the gas runs dry.” “Keeping them running would make it possible to avoid a problem in winter. It is not about electricity production.
Operators EON SE and RWE AG have indicated that they are open to discussion with lawmakers about such an option but stressed the importance of a quick decision. Scholz stated that a study on supply security will be available to Germany by the end or beginning of September.
Christian Lindner, the German Finance Minister, was however more optimistic about the possibility of prolonging the reactors’ lives on a temporary basis. He said that there was a lot to be done with the three nuclear power stations we have.
Short-term, Germany’s energy consumption will be reduced the most. This is true for all countries that are moving away from Russian resources.
Germany has asked citizens to reduce their gas consumption, and last week placed a levy. It is also investing in infrastructure to allow for more liquefied natural gases to be imported.
According to the Federal Network Agency (the country’s energy regulator), gas stores are 78% full.
Habeck stated that there are no scenarios in which gas is scarce, but that there are some situations in which gas is in short supply. The question is how large is the gap in the worst-case scenario. The gap exists and that is the real issue.
According to an Allensbach poll published by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Sunday, 60% of Germans support extending the lives of Germany’s remaining nuclear power stations.
In a report, Kesavarthiniy Svarimuthu, an analyst from BloombergNEF, stated that these reactors could replace just 3% of German natural gas consumption next year.
“Although I believe it is wrong to enter nuclear power, I must face this question. It’s complex,” Habeck said.
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