Business & Economy

Germany shuts down its last three nuclear reactors

Berlin, Apr 15 (EFE).- Germany prepared to turn off its last three nuclear reactors on Saturday as it seeks to wean itself off Russian gas and bolster an energy transition towards renewables.

In 2021, following the Fukushima catastrophe, then Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government moved to close all of Germany’s nuclear reactors by 31 December 2022 but the uncertainty caused by the war in Ukraine delayed the shutdown until 15 April.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz, of the Social Democratic Party, used executive powers in October to delay the legally mandated shutdown of Germany’s last three operating nuclear plants – the Isar 2 and Neckar 2 power plants, in southern Germany, and Lingen, in the central state of Lower Saxony – amid concerns about energy shortages throughout the winter months due to a drop in Russian gas flows.

The move has sparked much debate with critics saying extending the operating lives of the nuclear power plants would reduce the price of electricity in Germany.

On Friday, some 20 scientists, including two Nobel Prize winners, called for the plants to remain operational so as to achieve climate objectives. The experts also warned that a rise in emissions caused by greater coal consumption last year could threaten Germany’s sustainable goals.

A poll commissioned by state broadcaster ARD suggested that 59% of Germans were against the nuclear shutdown.

Jonas Egerer, an energy market expert consulted by EFE, said that the current situation was partly due to the fact that after 2011 the government did not take the necessary measures for a transition towards a renewable energy system, but instead saw gas plants as a bridge for the long-term supply of electricity, thereby fostering a deep-rooted dependence on Russian gas.

According to the professor at the University of Erlangen–Nuremberg, the last-minute decision to extend the deadline for the nuclear shutdown by three months was due in particular to the low performance of hydroelectric power plants in 2022 and the issues with French nuclear energy.

Egerer added that with “appropriate preparation” there was no risk to Germany’s energy supply for the forthcoming winter.

However, he did warn that, in certain scenarios, especially if gas becomes more expensive, the reduction in supply could boost electricity prices in the German wholesale market.

Energy expert Anke Herold was more confident about the future.

“In general, the electricity supply in Germany in 2023 is very secure and the production that will be lost by nuclear power plants can be compensated without any problem,” she told EFE.

The director of the independent research center Öko-Institut added it was unlikely that greenhouse gas emissions would increase again in Germany, as they did last year, since renewable sources would be making up for the shortfall in energy needs.EFE


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