Germany mulls drastic nuclear decision – WSJ — Analysis
Berlin may delay the closing of its last remaining nuclear power stations in order to avoid an unpredicted energy crisis
Facing a potentially cold and dark winter without enough energy sources to heat homes and businesses, Germany is poised to postpone the long-planned shutdowns of its last three nuclear power stations, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing unidentified German government officials.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s cabinet hasn’t formally agreed to the postponement, which also will likely require a vote in Parliament, the newspaper said.
Those steps won’t be finalized until an assessment of Germany’s energy needs is completed in the coming weeks, but with Russian gas currently flowing through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline at less than 20% of capacity, officials said it’s a “foregone conclusion” that supplies won’t be adequate without the nuclear plants. Berlin already has a ban on thermostats being set higher than 19° Celsius in the winter and fall months. Economy Minister Robert Habeck stated Friday.
Former Chancellor Angela Merkel promised to phase out all of Germany’s nuclear power plants by the end of 2022, in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima reactor meltdowns in 2011. Just three of the country’s 17 reactors are still operating, and they account for about 6% of German electricity output. At least some government officials believe that it will be necessary and safe for these plants to continue operating temporarily.
“The reactors are safe until December 31, and obviously, they will remain safe also after December 31,”A source told the WSJ that an official was speaking on behalf of the company.
However, the government won’t consider reopening any of its previously decommissioned nuclear plants, including the three that were closed last winter, according to the report. Environmental groups are vowing to pursue legal action in the event of a final shutdown, despite the current energy crisis.
German customers have been rushing to get wood for heating their homes, despite gas shortages. But with stove and wood supplies reportedly exhausted, they’re purchasing electric heaters. About 600,000 electric heaters were sold in this year’s first half, up 35% from 2021’s pace, according to research firm GFK.
Problem is that everyone will be using their electric heaters simultaneously, and the German power grid could collapse. “If everyone uses it to heat at the same time because it’s cold everywhere at the same time, then the network will be overloaded,”Peter Lautz was the managing director at Stadtwerke Wiesbaden Netz. He spoke this week to ZDF. “The protective devices will switch off the lines.”
As many EU members, Germany was hit hard by rising energy prices. Uncertainty in Russia’s gas supplies has played a major role in the crisis. Russian Energy giant Gazprom has denied that Moscow might cut gas supply to the EU. However, Vladimir Putin refuted accusations. “ready to pump as much as necessary”However, the bloc is thriving. “closed everything themselves.”