Germany on Tuesday paved the way for the extension this winter of the activity of its last two nuclear power plants, blaming France for its poor network. In early September, the Social Democratic government Olaf Scholzin which the environmentalists sit, had already returned to the definitive closure of two of the three reactors in the country scheduled for the end of 2022. It was then a question of keeping them “on standby” until the spring of 2023 and using them only as a last resort only , in case of an energy emergency.
But now Berlin is going further, stating that the situation of its French neighbor, which has always nuclear a major source of their supply, “was not good and has deteriorated considerably in recent weeks”.
As at the beginning of September, it was the German Economy Minister, the environmentalist Robert Habeck, who had the task of announcing this decision. To ensure energy supply in Germany, “the Isar 2 power plant (near Munich) and the Neckarwestheim power plant (southwest) will probably remain connected in the first quarter of 2023”, because “the situation in France is worse than expected”. expected”. he said at a press conference.
tensions in the coalition
“As the minister responsible for energy security (…) I consider it necessary,” added Mr. Habeck. A difficult position because his party, the Greens, has always fought against the atom in a country that has long opposed this form of energy.
Some 25 reactors – of the 56 in the French fleet – are unavailable due to maintenance operations or corrosion problems. FED promised its gradual restart by February. Therefore, “there is a lack of electricity volumes, which Germany partly compensates for with electricity from gas-fired power plants,” explained the Ministry of Economy in Berlin.
Based on the electricity scenarios for the winter, presented by France on September 14, Mr. Habeck estimated that the situation was worse than expected so far. To underscore the point, he stated that “in the past, operator EDF’s claims have often turned out to be too positive.”
Liberal parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr welcomed the Economy Minister’s announcement: “It’s a step in the right direction,” he told the Funke media group. “It’s encouraging to see the Greens moving in the right direction,” he added.
This concession is a new blow for the environment minister, whose frictions with his finance colleague, the liberal Christian Lindner, are increasingly evident. The latter also asks him to repeal a new tax on gas which will take effect on October 1.
This tax, which would add several hundred euros to household bills, must be paid to gas importers to help them bear the exorbitant prices of purchases intended to replace Russian gas.
The German press claims that the economy minister is losing the battle and that the tax will be removed this week. In an interview with the T-online news site, Mr. Lindner also advocated that “all three German power plants remain connected to supply electricity”.
So far, the German government has given up expanding the third and last nuclear power plant still in operation, in Emsland (Lower Saxony), located in the north of the country. It will also not be placed in a “hold” situation.