Is Germany about to return to the nuclear issue? An extension of the last power stations operating across the Rhine is now apparently envisaged by the government. A scenario that seemed impossible before the outbreak of war in Ukraine and the energy crisis that began in recent months.
In full consideration of this question, the German government indicated on Monday that it will decide “in the next few weeks” on a possible extension of the last nuclear power plants, which should stop at the end of the year. Before making a decision, Berlin said it was waiting for the result ” in a stress test in progress” to determine the current level of security of the plants.
The return to nuclear power would be a remarkable change in German energy policy, which has been built over a decade of phasing out nuclear power, gas and increasing renewables. Under the emotion of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, the former Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to take her country from this very low carbon source of energy.
The debate occupies the German political class and the coalition
This choice of Angela Merkel in 2011 has long been recognized by environmentalists, members of the government coalition of the Social Democratic Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the fight against the atom that has been a pillar of the program of the German Greens since the Cold War.
But the infrequent deliveries of Russian gas, and their expected cessation in the coming months in a context of economic sanctions against Russia, plunge the country into a state of uncertainty in the strength of the coming of winter. Before the war in Ukraine, Germany imported almost 55% of its gas from Russia.
The Minister of Economy Robert Habeck, from the ranks of environmentalists, sounded the alarm last month by recognizing that the country’s energy situation has unprecedented gravity. ” We are now in a situation where Germany has never been. If Russian gas supplies remain as low as they are now, we are running into gas shortages,” he explained, acknowledging that his government is preparing to make “society’s very hard choices”.
On the right, the extension of nuclear power plants is defended by German conservatives. ” I can expect it, you will see that the nuclear power plants will be extended by the end of the year”, hammered their leader Friedrich Merz this week. Within the government coalition itself, the Liberals of the FDP also support this option. ” The life of nuclear power plants should be extended until spring 2024. This is the time when we run the risk of running out of energy”Liberal heavyweight Michael Kruse was launched by Bild on Tuesday.
On Sunday, Bundestag environment vice-president Katrin Göring-Eckardt agreed that in the event of a real emergency, using the last fuel of nuclear power plants still in service, which could extend their life in surgery, is a possible option. Even the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the ecologist Annalena Baerbock, admitted that the “state of emergency” experienced in Germany obliged to “Think of all the solutions”.
If Germany continues to operate the last nuclear power plants, it will not be the first conflict in its ambition to reduce carbon emissions. The country has announced that it will use more coal-fired power plants to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.
Agreement in principle between Belgium and Engie to extend 2 reactors
The two Belgian nuclear reactors whose life should be extended by ten years to strengthen energy independence operate in a joint venture created between the Belgian State and the French group Engie, according to “an agreement in principle ” announced the joint Friday . The two parties fiercely negotiated the terms of this extension announced in March, against a backdrop of limiting dependence on Russian hydrocarbons after the war in Ukraine. They aim to reach “a final agreement by the end of the year and submit it to the European Commission”, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten said in a statement on Friday. .