Scholz says keeping reactors online 'can make sense'

04 August 2022

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that keeping the country's final three operating nuclear power reactors online beyond their planned shutdown at the end of this year may "make sense" in order to ensure electricity supplies.

Olaf Scholz (left) viewed a turbine serviced in Canada for the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline at the Siemens Energy site in Muelheim an der Ruhr (Image: Steffen Kugler / Bundesregierung)

Last month, Economics Minister Robert Habeck announced a new wave of emergency measures to cut Germany's consumption of gas after supplies from Russia through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline resumed at reduced levels following a scheduled shutdown. He said supplies of gas from Russia could not be relied upon and called on people to pull together to save energy.

Speaking during a 3 August visit to Siemens Energy in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Scholz said: "As far as the energy supply in Germany is concerned, as everyone knows, the last three nuclear power plants are only relevant for electricity production, and only for a small part of it." He added that their continued operation "can make sense".

However, he said the government will not make any decision on the continued operation of reactors until the latest stress test on the security of the country's electricity supply has been completed.

"As you know, we have carried out several stress tests," Scholz said. "One has already been done. We have commissioned a very, very strict stress test as far as the situation with electricity production in Germany is concerned, which is not yet over but will be over soon and from which we will then draw our conclusions."

The expansion of renewable energy varies greatly between individual federal states, with the expansion of wind energy particularly progressing very slowly in Bavaria, he noted. The expansion of power line capacities and the transmission grid in southern Germany has also not progressed as quickly as planned.

"These are situations that we need to consider alongside all these other stress testing issues," Scholz said. "But for us there is a very clear decision: we will act for all of Germany. We will support all regions of Germany in the best possible way so that the energy supply of all citizens in Germany and all companies can be guaranteed as best as possible."

Following the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan in March 2011, the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel decided it would phase out its use of nuclear power by the end of 2022 at the latest. Prior to the accident, Germany was obtaining around one-quarter of its electricity from nuclear power.

In August 2011, the 13th amendment of the Nuclear Power Act came into effect, which underlined the political will to phase out nuclear power in Germany. As a result, eight units were closed down immediately: Biblis A and B, Brunsbüttel, Isar 1, Krümmel, Neckarwestheim 1, Phillipsburg 1 and Unterweser. The Brokdorf, Grohnde and Gundremmingen C plants were permanently shut down at the end of December 2021.

The country's final three units - Emsland, Isar 2 and Neckarwestheim 2 - are set to close at the end of this year.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News