The European Union’s largest economy is contemplating a nuclear solution to its current energy woes.
Last July 22nd, Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated that his government considered extending the operations of the country’s last three operational nuclear power plants beyond December 31st of this year.
Scholz’s pronouncement was prompted by the regional energy crisis’s impact on the German economy. The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has driven the country to seek alternatives to Russian gas and oil, supplies for which have been hampered by international sanctions.
The Chancellor added that economic minister Robert Habeck commissioned what he referred to as a comprehensive worst-case scenario evaluation of the three remaining nuclear facilities to determine whether these may be used safely beyond the end of the current year.
A Necessary Evaluation
Habeck’s evaluation of the plants will entail a stress test specifically designed to gauge the stability of the country’s energy infrastructure. In addition, the economic ministry ordered the study to check if Germany’s power supply would not be hampered throughout the winter months.
The study was also meant to see if shifting to nuclear power would not be necessary to augment energy generated through more conventional means.
Previously, Habeck remarked at a recent event on sustainable energy that the use of nuclear power did little to address the need to shift to greener and more sustainable means of power generation.
Likewise, extreme weather conditions plaguing much of Europe this summer have kept local groundwater sources too warm for use in nuclear power generation. Also, it was recently noted that less natural gas was pumped through the primary pipeline between Russia and Germany.
A Wait and See Scenario
It may be said that, pending the results of the Habeck assessment, the German government expects to make a final decision on the extended use of nuclear power based on hard facts resulting from the study.
But even before the assessment yields results, various government parties are willing to consider the possibility of the extension despite the fact that this may be construed as a controversial decision given the potential dangers of nuclear energy.
While Germany’s Green Party previously vetoed the extended use of the nation’s last nuclear power plants, the possibility that winter could prove to be a bleak time for Germany’s power sector has made it think otherwise. Indeed, party co-chair Ricarda Lang has stated that all measures to ensure the sustainable generation of energy need to be considered.