Germany’s nuclear power stations will stay open, Scholz decides
Chancellor Olaf Scholz has prolonged production at Germany's three nuclear power stations, breaking the coalition’s deadlock disagreement over energy-crisis solutions.
Scholz continues German nuclear power production
On Monday evening SPD chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that Germany’s three remaining power plants would stay active until mid-April 2023, calling an end to a row within the traffic light coalition that has been raging over the past few days. The debate comes as Germany stockpiles energy for a winter without sure supplies of Russian gas via the Nord Stream pipelines.
“I have come to a decision as chancellor,” Scholz wrote in a letter to the Green's Robert Habeck, liberal FDP leader Christian Lindner and other cabinet members. “The legal basis will be created to allow the operation of the nuclear power plants Isar 2, Neckarwestheim 2 and Emsland beyond December 31, 2022 until April 15, 2023.”
Habeck and Lindner have been on either side of Scholz during the days-long debate. While Habeck tailored the Green’s traditionally anti-nuclear line to fit the energy crisis context by suggesting two of the three plants should stay on hold until next spring, Lindner thought the third plant at Emsland in Lower Saxony should also remain open.
Many German newspapers have called the decision a blow to Habeck, not just because Scholz had ruled in his disfavour, but also because this weekend his own party had publicly backed his position on shutting down the Emsland plant. For Lindner, Scholz’s was the most sensible plan: “It is in the vital interest of our country and its economy that we maintain all power generation capacity this winter,” he tweeted.
Thunberg and Greenpeace call Scholz’s decision a mistake
On Tuesday morning, climate activist Greta Thunberg told German public television that she thought Scholz’s decision to slowly move away from nuclear power and towards coal was not the answer to the country’s energy crisis.
Speaking on the Maischberger chat show, the 19-year-old said, “I personally think it's a very bad idea to focus on coal when [nuclear power] is already in place.” She added that she believed the question was also a “very infected debate” within the climate movement.
Greenpeace Germany was quick to condemn Scholz’s decision as “irresponsible”, but for different reasons than Thunberg. “Extending the operating lives of nuclear power plants exposes us all to an unjustifiable risk,” said executive director Martin Kaiser.
Germany using more green energy than ever before
Russia’s current dominion over gas in Germany has caused politicians and climate activists to debate energy more urgently than ever, and has led to a boost in the country’s renewable energy production. News of Scholz’s decision comes as media outlet Tagesschau reported that Germany has produced a record-breaking 104 terawatt hours of solar and wind energy since March this year, amounting to around a third of the country’s overall electricity production.
Similar records can be seen EU-wide. Between March and September 2022, 24 percent of electricity used in the EU was produced using renewable energy, an increase of 3 percent on the previous year. This amounts to 345 terawatt hours of solar and wind energy.