The vice-chancellor of the German government has reiterated its commitment to end the use of nuclear power in the country by the end of 2022.
Although Germans dread a power crisis caused by Russia’s potential decision to stop exporting natural gas into the country, Vice-chancellor Robert Habeck says keeping Germany’s last few nuclear reactors in operation will barely make a dent should there be a shortfall in the supply of natural gas.
At a news conference held in Vienna last July 12th, Habeck stated that nuclear power might have no lasting benefit, citing that Germany may have issues regarding heating and industrial machinery. Still, it does not have a problem concerning its power supply.
However, Habeck faces pushback from the Social Democratic Party, the government’s main opposition party, which has asked that the last nuclear reactors be kept online even as the year ends.
The End of the Road for Nuclear Power?
The legal certification for Germany’s last nuclear reactors is expected to expire on December 31st of this year. In which case, these will eventually be considered new nuclear plants under a new roster of safety regulations.
However, nuclear power accounts for a tiny fraction of Germany’s overall power generation scene. Indeed, nuclear energy accounted for just 6% of the country’s total power generation. On the other hand, natural gas made up 13% of the total.
An Atmosphere of Mistrust
Presently, 35% of natural gas used for power generation in Germany is sourced from Russia, and it is piped through directly from the latter. But this may no longer be the case, given recent developments.
Last July 11th, Nord Stream 1, the primary pipeline carrying gas from Russia to Germany, was shut down for annual maintenance and is expected to restart operations by July 21st. Its operator also stated that it would be assessing the line’s mechanical elements and automated systems overall.
However, the German government expressed concerns about whether or not Russia will be pumping gas through the line on the aforementioned date. These fears were prompted by the way Russian gas company Gazprom reduced the flow of fuel through Nord Stream 1 by 60% last month.
Gazprom has tried to allay these concerns, stating that one of the gas turbines used to power a compressor station was sent to Canada for general repairs by its technical partner Siemens Energy.