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15 Sep 2022, 13:44
Sören Amelang

German nuclear extension would not reduce CO2 emissions – ifo institute

Clean Energy Wire

Calculations by the ifo Institute for Economic Research suggest that postponing the decommissioning of Germany’s three remaining nuclear power plants would not help the climate. “Extending the operating lives of nuclear power plants in Germany only saves small amounts of natural gas, but will hinder the expansion of renewable energies in the medium term,” writes ifo electricity expert Mathias Mier in a report based on a scenario analysis. “The lifetime extensions therefore do not lead to lower CO2 emissions.” Mier also said that keeping nuclear would lead to lower investments in renewables: “The runtime extension ultimately obstructs the expansion of wind turbines and photovoltaic plants.”

Keeping Germany’s nuclear plants in operation would generate about four percent of Germany’s electricity and reduce the electricity price by four percent next year, according to a scenario assuming the nuclear plants remain in operation until 2030. However, the share of natural gas in power generation would only drop from 8.3 percent to 7.6 percent. “This is because nuclear power isn’t a 1:1 replacement for natural gas; rather, it also displaces coal, especially in the short term,” writes Mier.

Following a "stress test" conducted by grid operators, the economy and climate ministry, which is led by Green politician Robert Habeck, proposed moving two nuclear plants in southern Germany into an emergency reserve until mid-April 2023 before decommissioning them for good. The third remaining German nuclear power plant would be decommissioned as planned at the end of 2022. The measure would provide the government with more energy policy flexibility in the coming winter but would not fundamentally alter the decision to end nuclear power swiftly, Habeck argued. The proposal was widely criticised both by proponents and opponents of nuclear power. While industry and many opposition politicians argued that a more comprehensive extension for nuclear power is necessary and that the proposal unnecessarily complicates energy supply, environmental NGOs said that putting the reactors in a reserve amounted to a cancellation of the agreed phase-out model.

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