Germany to shut nuclear reactors regardless of power disaster

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BERLIN (AFP) – Germany will shut down three nuclear energy vegetation on Friday (Dec 31) whilst Europe faces certainly one of its worst ever power crises, following former chancellor Angela Merkel’s timetable for phasing out atomic power.

With power costs already on the rise and tensions greater than ever between Europe and key fuel provider Russia, the closure of the vegetation in Brokdorf, Grohnde and Gundremmingen might properly tighten the squeeze.

The transfer will halve remaining nuclear capability in Germany and cut back power output by round 4 gigawatts – equal to the ability produced by 1,000 wind generators.

Protests over the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in 2011 prompted Dr Merkel to set the wheels in movement for abandoning nuclear energy simply over 10 years in the past.

Germany is planning to utterly wind down atomic power by the tip of 2022, when it’ll shut its last three vegetation in Neckarwestheim, Essenbach and Emsland.

But with power costs hovering throughout Europe, the timing of the plans coming to fruition might hardly be worse.

Europe’s reference fuel worth, Dutch TTF, hit 187.78 euros (S$286.86) per megawatt hour in December – 10 occasions greater than at first of the yr – and electrical energy costs are additionally hovering.

The spike has been fuelled by geopolitical tensions with Russia, which provides one third of Europe’s fuel.

Western nations accuse Russia of limiting fuel deliveries to place strain on Europe amid tensions over the Ukraine battle.

Moscow additionally desires to push via the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline, set to ship nonetheless extra Russian fuel to Germany.

The finish of nuclear energy in Germany will probably push costs up even additional, in line with Dr Sebastian Herold, a professor of power coverage on the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences.

“In the long term, the hope is that an increase in renewable energy will balance things out, but this will not be the case in the short term,” he mentioned.

Until Germany can actually ramp up renewables, it’ll stay depending on fossil fuels to plug the hole left by the nuclear exit.

“This will make Germany more dependent on natural gas overall, at least in the short term, and thus also a little more dependent on Russia,” Dr Herold mentioned.

The transition might also take longer than Germany would really like, with progress on renewables slowed lately by opposition to power infrastructure tasks.

The proportion of power generated by renewables is anticipated to fall in 2021 for the primary time since 1997 – to 42 per cent, in contrast with 45.3 per cent in 2020.

As properly as driving up costs, the nuclear plant closures may also take away a key supply of low-carbon power in a rustic that’s already struggling to satisfy formidable local weather targets.

The new coalition authorities beneath Social Democrat Olaf Scholz has pledged to carry ahead Germany’s deliberate coal exit to 2030 and desires Germany to generate 80 per cent of its electrical energy from renewables by the identical yr.

But Mr Robert Habeck, the co-leader of the Green occasion and head of a newly created super-ministry for the financial system and local weather, admitted this week that Germany is already on the right track to overlook its local weather targets for 2022 and possibly additionally 2023.

Other EU nations, together with France, are persevering with to push nuclear power and campaigning for it to be included on the EU’s listing of sustainable power sources eligible for funding.

Even in Germany, public opinion in direction of nuclear appears to be softening.

In a current YouGov survey for the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, round 50 per cent of Germans mentioned they have been in favour of reversing the deliberate nuclear shutdown as a result of current sharp rise in power costs.

Ms Monika Schnitzer, a member of the German Council of Economic Experts, instructed the Rheinische Post newspaper that it might make sense “economically and ecologically” to delay the shutdown.

But the federal government is sticking to Dr Merkel’s plan, with Mr Habeck this week defending the nuclear shutdown.

Any politician calling for the reintroduction of nuclear power “would also have to say, I would like to have the nuclear waste in my constituency”, he mentioned. “As soon as someone says that, I will revisit the issue.”

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