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Germany plans to keep 2 nuclear power plants in operation

September 27, 2022

Germany will keep two of its remaining three nuclear plants on standby until at least April 2023, as the country also secures other alternative energy supplies to make it through winter.

Isar nuclear power plant in Bavaria
Germany will still stick to its plan of shutting off nuclear power in the long-termImage: Jan Woitas/dpa/picture alliance

Germany will keep two of its remaining three nuclear power plants running until at least April, Germany Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Tuesday.

Habeck said the two nuclear reactors located in the southern states of the country, Isar 2 in Bavaria, and Neckarwestheim in Baden-Württemberg, would continue running until mid-April. 

Officials in Germany earlier this month said they would stick to their plans of shutting nuclear plants by end of this year, but would keep the option of reactivating them in case of asevere energy crunch.

Germany shut down three nuclear reactors in 2021, and shutting the remaining three would officially mark the end of the nuclear phase-out for domestic energy production that had first begun under former Chancellor Angela Merkel's rule.

What did Habeck say?

"The operators will now make all the preparations needed for the southern German nuclear power plants to produce electricity in winter and beyond the end of the year, naturally in compliance with safety regulations," Habeck said.

Habeck said they would still need to make a decision about extending the lifespan of the power plants beyond April, and that decision would be dependent on the nuclear power plant situation in France.

"Today, I have to say that the data from France suggests that we will then call up and use the reserve," Habeck said.

France relies heavily on nuclear power to meet its electricity needs, but its nuclear fleet, the largest in Europe, has come under scrutiny lately.

A great deal of repair work at nuclear power stations have taken many of its nuclear reactors offline, and sent France's nuclear output to a record a 30-year low, exacerabting Europe's energy crisis.

A nuclear power comeback in Germany?

Will Germany face an energy crisis this winter?

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection said earlier this month that it was concerned about Germany's electricity situation ahead of winter.

Germany, which heavily relied on Russian natural gas until the war in Ukraine, has been looking at alternative energy supplies.

Germany's biggest energy supplier, RWE, for example, announced Sunday that it signed a deal with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company for the delivery of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) by end of December.

The announcement came as Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar over the weekend. 

Germany and the European Union's energy woes this winter have gained international attention because Russia used to supply as much as 40% gas to the EU before the invasion of Ukraine.

Germany then froze approval for activating Nord Stream 2 pipeline in February in response to Russia's attack on Ukraine, and Russia earlier this month said it would not resume gas supplies to the bloc through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

European gas prices have more than doubled from the start of the year as Russian supplies drop, but Habeck expressed confidence a few days ago that Germany would get through the winter "comfortably" if everything worked according to plan.

rm/wd (Reuters, AP) 

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