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German chancellor rejects calls to reverse nuclear power plant closures

Kate Connolly in Berlin, Thu 8 Sep 2022, Olaf Scholz says country has enough energy to get through winter after Russia cut gas supplies

The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has rejected calls for his government to commit to a longer-term extension of the life of the country’s nuclear power plants and insisted that Europe’s largest economy would have enough energy to get through the winter.

Scholz shut down criticism from the opposition conservative alliance and at least one leading economist, who have described his coalition’s decision to keep two remaining reactors in emergency reserve rather than letting them produce electricity, as “madness” while the government refuses to reverse its long-term plan to close down the last remaining plants…………….

The crisis, triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has been exacerbated in recent weeks by Moscow’s reduction of gas supplies to Germany, which was followed a week ago by a complete halt. Moscow has cited maintenance issues linked to sanctions imposed by the west.

Scholz accused Friedrich Merz’s conservative alliance (CDU/CSU) of refusing to accept responsibility for its role in the crisis, calling it “the party which holds complete responsibility for the fact that Germany made decisions to withdraw both from coal and from atomic energy, but never had the strength to enter into anything else”. He also accused the conservatives of failing to embrace renewable energy and actively campaigning against it.

“You were incapable of bringing about the expansion of renewable energies. You led defensive battles against every single wind turbine,” he said. By trying now to save as much gas, electricity and oil as it can before winter kicks in – in part with the construction of LNG terminals and expanding renewable energy – Scholz said his government was “solving problems that the union failed to recognise as such when it was in power”.

Scholz said Germans would “rise above themselves” and deal with the coming winter with “with boldness and bravery” and said that Germany was close to its goal of becoming independent from Russian gas exports. Gas storage facilities were 86% full on Wednesday……………

On Monday Habeck had announced that two nuclear reactors would remain “on standby” supported by the necessary staff, equipment and security, but would not be producing electricity unless needed……………….

Amira Mohamed Ali, parliamentary leader of the far-left Die Linke, accused the coalition government of having “no social conscience”. She urged the government to approach Russia in an attempt to bring it to the negotiating table and end its hostilities in Ukraine.

The instability of nuclear power is one of the main reason for not relying on it, the economics ministry argued when it presented its plans on Monday. Currently only 28 of 56 plants in France are on the grid, due in part to the shortage of cooling water linked to this summer’s drought, meaning Germany has had to supply its neighbour with electricity.

September 8, 2022 - Posted by | Germany, politics

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