22 Aug 2022, 13:05
Benjamin Wehrmann

German econ min says limited extension of one single nuclear plant conceivable

dpa / Zeit Online

Extending the runtime of Germany’s three remaining nuclear power plants will do very little to help the country weather the looming gas supply crisis, economy and climate minister Robert Habeck has said. But extending the life of one of the plants, Isar 2 in Bavaria, to cushion the effects of a misguided energy policy in the southern state could be advisable, he said. “Given how little we will gain from it, this is the wrong decision,” the Green Party minister said with a view to calls for extending the runtime of all three plants well beyond their scheduled decommissioning date at the end of this year, news agency dpa reported in an article carried by Zeit Online. Letting the three plants operate longer would at best save two percent of Germany’s gas consumption, Habeck said, adding that nuclear power “is not the cheapest and also not the safest technology to supply Europe and the rest of the world in the future”. Other options for saving gas would be much more effective, Habeck argued, which is why the nuclear exit consensus should not be put into question. However, due to the especially difficult energy supply situation in Bavaria, a limited extension of the Isar 2 plant near Munich could be an option, Habeck said, adding that a lack of wind power expansion in the state had contributed to Bavaria’s current predicament. However, he stressed that the government had not yet made a final decision on whether or not any nuclear power extension will be allowed at all.

While Bavaria is leading in solar power among German states, the restrictive wind turbine licensing in the economic powerhouse state would now become a problem for its energy security, Habeck said. “You can do exactly nothing with solar power during a night in January in Bavaria. You also need other forms [of energy generation],” Habeck said. Bavaria had opted for not expanding these other forms of energy generation and also blocked the expansion power transmission lines to transfer wind energy generated in northern Germany to its industrial centres, Habeck argued. Instead, the state decided to rely heavily on more gas-fired power production.

Bavaria’s governing conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) last week accused the federal grid agency (BNetzA), an authority subordinate to the economy and climate ministry, of actively disadvantaging the state in the gas supply crisis, after BNetzA head Klaus Müller had said gas shortages would be more likely in some regions than in others. Habeck’s ministry is currently conducting a so-called grid stress test that is supposed to answer which nuclear plants could help stabilise the country’s power grid amid a shortfall of gas supplies. The test’s results are expected before the end of August.

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
« previous news next news »


Sven Egenter

Researching a story? Drop CLEW a line or give us a call for background material and contacts.

+49 30 62858 497

Journalism for the energy transition

Get our Newsletter
Join our Network
Find an interviewee