German nuclear operators continue shutdowns despite overhaul

German nuclear power operators will continue to decommission the country’s last three remaining plants, even as the government debates whether to keep the facilities operating through the winter.

E.ON, RWE and EnBW have confirmed that they have not purchased additional fuel to extend the life of the Isar 2, Emsland and Neckarwestheim plants beyond the end of the year, when they are legally required to close.

“Based on the current legal situation, we assume that our nuclear power plant will still have to be closed at the end of this year,” said EnBW’s chief financial officer, Thomas Kusterer. “We are preparing accordingly.”

EnBW could only keep its Neckarwestheim facility operational for “a few more weeks” beyond 2022 with current fuel reserves, Kusterer said.

The German Ministry of Economics decides whether or not to extend the mandatory closing date. “Whether we need fuel rods also depends, of course, on how long this extension lasts,” Kusterer said. “We just have to wait for the results and see what happens.”

The German government, a coalition between the Social Democrats, the liberal FDP and the anti-nuclear Greens, had pledged to shut down all remaining German nuclear power plants by the end of this year.

But in recent weeks the FDP has joined calls from opposition Christian Democrats for the plants to continue operating beyond the end of the year, in light of Germany’s looming energy crisis.

In mid-June, Russia drastically cut gas supplies to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea, hampering the country’s efforts to stock up on gas ahead of the winter heating season.

The government is currently carrying out a “stress test” of the German electricity system, to see if it can continue to operate even “under worsened conditions”. Many politicians in Berlin believe he could decide to suspend the country’s nuclear exit plan based on the results of this test.

Markus Krebber, managing director of Essen-based RWE, said a choice had to be made “politically” before any expansion plans could be put in place, “and after the decision we will go in the direction that the The politicians”.

Leo Birnbaum, chief executive of E.ON, said the group had been “technically and organizationally preparing for years” for the dismantling of its nuclear plant and would continue to do so unless instructed. opposite.

The leaders’ comments came as Klaus Müller, Germany’s energy supply chief, downplayed the importance of keeping the country’s nuclear plants running to offset a cut in gas from Russia.

“Germany imports gas as a raw material for the chemical industry and to produce heat. And nuclear power doesn’t help us in either of those areas,” Müller told the Financial Times.

“We should really focus the debate on how to avoid a gas shortage. All our energies should be directed towards that.

He said the government’s stress test was designed in part because southern Germany, where the Isar 2 plant was located “hasn’t made enough progress in expanding its power grid. electric”.

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