29 Sep 2022, 13:53
Benjamin Wehrmann

German coalition party FDP says nuclear runtime extension must be longer than proposed

Clean Energy Wire

The Free Democrats (FDP) in Germany’s government coalition have criticised the decision by Green Party economy and climate minister Robert Habeck to transfer two of the country’s remaining nuclear plants into an emergency reserve only until April next year. The pro-business party called for a longer runtime extension of all three plants that are still in operation instead. The proposed nuclear emergency reserve would be “a step in the right direction” but “must not be the end of the line” for using the full potential of nuclear to support the power system in the current energy crisis, said the FDP’s secretary general, Bijan Djir-Sarai. “We need a runtime extension of all three nuclear plants […] until 2024 to safeguard our energy supply and to cushion high energy prices,” Djir-Sarai said. In a special announcement following Habeck’s agreement with nuclear plant operators to keep the two plants in southern Germany, Isar 2 and Neckarwestheim 2, in operation for several months longer than the scheduled nuclear phase-out date in December, the FDP’s secretary general said the Europe-wide energy crisis showed the entire continent needs to ramp up its energy infrastructure and install more capacity. “The dimension of this crisis makes it clear that we need to do all we can to keep generation capacity on the grid and provide additional electricity” he said. This would make a debate about Germany’s coal and nuclear phase-out schedules unavoidable, he argued. 

Economy minister Habeck made the decision for an emergency reserve based on a grid stress test conducted together with grid operators, which found that the reactors can help avoid bottlenecks in electricity supply during the winter, particularly in southern Germany. The third plant, Emsland in the north, would not bring the same kind of benefits, which is why it should go offline as planned, the minister has argued. Industry representatives and opposition parties have criticised the reserve for falling short of providing the needed backup, while environmental groups said altering the nuclear exit schedule is a risk-laden decision that undermines an existing consensus to end nuclear power generation quickly. The Green Party group in parliament vehemently rejects a general runtime extension beyond spring next year and the SPD has also opposed this.

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