Nuclear, coal, LNG: “no taboo” in Germany’s energy volte-face


by Christoph Steitz, Riham Alkousaa and Maria Sheahan

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany signaled a reversal in its key energy policies on Sunday, citing the possibility of extending the life of coal-fired and even nuclear power plants to reduce its dependence on Russian gas, after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

Several Western nations have pressured Europe’s biggest economy to become less dependent on Russian gas, but its plans to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2030 and shut down its nuclear plants by the end of 2022 left few options.

In a speech on Sunday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz outlined a more radical path for Germany to reduce its energy dependence on Russia.

“The events of the past few days have shown us that a responsible and forward-looking energy policy is decisive not only for our economy and the environment, but also for our security,” Olaf Scholz told a session of the Bundestag devoted to the Ukrainian crisis.

“We need to change course to overcome our dependence on imports from individual energy suppliers,” he added.

This involves building two liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, in Brunsbüttel and Wilhelmshaven, in northern Germany, and increasing its natural gas reserves.

Germany is also studying the possibility of extending the life of its last nuclear power plants in order to secure the country’s energy supply, said Economy Minister Robert Habeck, a member of the Greens.

Asked by German broadcaster ARD if he could consider allowing nuclear power plants to operate longer than planned as part of Germany’s exit plan, which calls for the country’s three remaining power plants to be shut down from by the end of 2022, he replied, “It is part of the tasks of my ministry to answer this question. I would not reject it for ideological reasons”.

Isar 2, Emsland and Neckarwestheim 2 are the last nuclear power plants producing electricity in Germany after the country decided ten years ago to phase out this fuel following the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

Robert Habeck also said letting coal-fired power plants run longer than planned was an option, casting doubt on Germany’s planned 2030 coal exit.

“There is no taboo on deliberations,” said Robert Habeck, adding that Germany’s goal was to choose the country that will provide it with its energy.

Earlier this week, Germany suspended the certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline linking Russia to Germany after Moscow recognized the independence of the separatist territories in eastern Ukraine.

Russia has since invaded Ukraine, prompting the West to impose new sanctions on Moscow and making the issue of energy supplies even more pressing.

The reorganization of energy priorities is accompanied by a paradigm shift in German foreign and defense policy, with Olaf Scholz also announcing a dramatic increase in military spending.

(French version Camille Raynaud)


Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by www.challenges.fr.

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