Germany’s Green fold: nuclear power phase out will be delayed

Lorenzo Bagnato

18 Ottobre 2022 - 14:41

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Germany’s remaining 3 nuclear power plants will remain active until April 2023. The decision comes to the dismay of the Green Party.

Germany's Green fold: nuclear power phase out will be delayed

Germany’s disastrous energy policies of the last decade are coming back to haunt them. After the Fukushima Nuclear Accident in Japan, the then Chancellor Angela Merkel started a phase-out from nuclear power in Germany. The last three nuclear power plants were scheduled to be closed by the end of 2022.

But the phase out from nuclear power had to be delayed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his government. The decision was inevitable, as many countries are scrapping the barrels of their power plants for every precious megawatt. The current energy crisis is a bitter cause of the war in Ukraine. After Russia’s invasion, European countries decided to support Kyiv economically and militarily, allowing the Kremlin to close the taps of gas and oil.

That same Chancellor who started the nuclear phase out in Germany, the beloved “Mutti” as Angela Merkel was tenderly called, also made Europe a Russian energy slave. She opened, in agreement with Moscow, Nord Stream 2 and under her rule Germany imported half of her gas from Russia. Nord Stream 2 now sits on the bottom of the Baltic, torn apart by sabotageù, and German tanks are fighting Russia in the Donbass.

Without nuclear power and Russian gas, the biggest industrial power in Europe was forced to turn coal plants back on. Germany is the only major power in Europe which has increased dependency from fossil fuels since their plea to go carbon neutral by 2050.

Keeping the nuclear power plants active

Germany has always been hostile against nuclear power. The Green Party, who currently is part of the majority coalition, has made anti-nuclearism its banner. However, Green Minister of Economy Robert Habeck had to swallow a bitter pill and concede the extension of the nuclear phase out.

Now, the remaining 3 nuclear power plants in Germany will be turned off by April 15th 2023 instead of the end of 2022. They will keep providing Germany with energy throughout the winter “but with no extension,” assures Green Environment Minister Katharina Droege.

Specifically, the three power plants to remain active are Isar 2, Neckarwestheim 2 and Emsden. Together, they provide around 6% of Germany’s energy needs.

The Green party had to fold under pressure from every other political force. SPD (Scholz’s party) and FDP, the two other forces forming the government, were adamant in continuing the lifetime of nuclear power plants. Even opposition forces and environmental activists like Greta Thunberg agreed that an extension of the nuclear phase-out was necessary.

Olaf Scholz also asked his government to create an ambitious plan to completely phase out coal power plants by 2030. Right now, German plans for coal phase out set 2038 as the final date, and this was before starting back old power plants. It is not clear how Germany will manage to go carbon free by 2050 without nuclear power. Right now, Germany’s low winds and feeble sunlight allow only 40% of energy production to come from renewable sources.

Germany has an objective decision to make: either they go for nuclear power or they go for coal, gas and oil.

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