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18 Oct 2022, 14:03
Benjamin Wehrmann

Czech nuclear power plans pose difficulties for Bavaria’s stance on contested technology

Die Welt / Clean Energy Wire

Plans by the Czech government to build a new nuclear plant close the border with German state Bavaria is causing a dilemma for the governing conservative CSU, which endorses a runtime extension for German nuclear plants but is wary of new installations built abroad, newspaper Die Welt reports. Regional CSU politicians in the German southern state complained that the announcement by Czech prime minister Petr Fiala to build several new “small” reactors and make the region close to the German border a “vanguard” in the technology by relaxing licensing requirements had come to their utter surprise. The Bavarian border region is already close to two nuclear plants, Bavarian reactor Isar 2, which is slated to receive a runtime extension until April next year, and Czech plant Temelin. The plan announced by the Czech prime minister now foresees the construction of a new modular reactor by 2032, by which date all of Germany’s remaining nuclear plants are expected to have been shut for almost a decade. The Bavarian Green Party said that the Czech Republic only implemented what the CSU proposed to do at home: “Building new nuclear power plants.” But the CSU government in Bavaria is not only worried about plans for new reactors, it also has signaled concerns to its Czech neighbours about a planned nuclear waste repository in the border region. CSU leader and state premier Markus Söder had written to Fiala in a letter that there was significant resistance against the plans in the border region, arguing Bavaria would “decidedly oppose such plans.”

Commenting on the German chancellor’s decision to enable a runtime extension for Germany’s nuclear plants until spring 2023, Bavaria’s economy minister Hubert Aiwanger from the CSU’s coalition partner Free Voters said the decision was “short-sighted” and ideologically motivated. He called for a longer extension until 2024, arguing the need for nuclear backup capacity would not end in April next year. In a press release earlier this year, Aiwanger had said Bavaria should remain “on the lookout” regarding the possibility that Germany’s own nuclear waste repository will be built in Bavaria, an option that the minister said he “cannot imagine.” Andreas Lenz, energy policy spokesperson for the CSU’s parliamentary group, told the newspaper he saw no inconsistencies in his party’s stance on nuclear power. “There’s a difference between building new nuclear plants and using existing ones for a limited time in a very tense supply situation.” With a view to Prague’s nuclear plans, Lenz added that all countries in Europe would have full autonomy regarding their energy policy.

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