07 Jul 2022, 13:19
Benjamin Wehrmann

Scholz rejects nuclear runtime extension as parliament holds key energy policy votes

Clean Energy Wire

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has ruled out an extension of the runtime of the country’s three remaining nuclear plants as a way to stabilise the energy system amid an unprecedented supply crisis. During question time in parliament, the Social Democrat (SPD) said his government had assessed the options for extending the runtime beyond the scheduled exit date at the end of 2022 “without any ideology” and come to the conclusion that a longer use of nuclear is not practicable from a technical perspective and would do little to bolster the country’s energy system. Fuel rods for the remaining reactors would be used up by the end of the year. “Nobody has proposed a way forward here,” Scholz said with a view to requests by his coalition partner, the Free Democrats (FDP), to consider an extension. Alexander Dobrindt of the opposition Christian Social Democrats (CSU) said fuel rods could be procured if there was the political will for it and that suppliers other than Russia are available. Scholz said his government had responded “comprehensively” to the supply crisis by ordering minimum filling levels for gas storages, reactivating coal plants currently in reserve, new liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, state support for energy suppliers and other measures. The German parliament (Bundestag) will vote on a proposal submitted by the CDU/CSU faction to extend the reactors’ runtime later this Thursday (7 July), a day packed with votes on many legislative measures that have to be processed before the Bundestag heads off to its annual summer recess until early September. Among other issues, the Bundestag votes on the latest Renewable Energy Act (EEG) reform and the reactivation of coal plants for supply security.

The far-right AfD said the price hikes faced by German households are a result of western sanctions against Russia, which would be hurting Germany more than Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. AfD MP Steffen Kotré and Klaus Ernst of the Left Party both said the current gas shortfall could be overcome by opening the offshore pipeline Nord Stream 2, which had been suspended as an immediate reaction to Russia’s attack in February. Scholz countered these statements by saying that some members of parliament “don’t take note that there’s actually a war going on in Ukraine“, adding that “the AfD is the party of Russia“.

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