Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck’s plans to place two nuclear power plants on reserve from 2023 and only activate them again in an emergency have sparked a sharp controversy. In the coalition, she brings the FDP against the Greens and SPD, but also nuclear power operators and opposition to the government.
CDU leader Friedrich Merz criticized Habeck’s initiative as irresponsible. “Germany is heading for a massive energy supply crisis, triggered by the war in Ukraine, exacerbated by completely absurd decisions by them federal government“He said on Deutschlandfunk. The Economics Minister was surrounded “by tough, green ideologues who – no matter what the cost – want to get out of fossil fuels and nuclear energy,” said Merz. He appealed to this “madness”. break up.
The first parliamentary director of the SPD parliamentary group, Katja Mast, rejected Merz’s “populist riot course”. “There is one historical constant in this country: the union was with the energy policy consistently wrong,” she told the German Press Agency. Nuclear power is “not a miracle cure that magics away our energy policy challenges.”
If concrete power bottlenecks threaten in winter, Economics Minister Habeck intends to keep two of the three remaining German nuclear power plants running until mid-April 2023: Isar 2 in Bavaria and Neckarwestheim in Baden-Württemberg. They are supposed to go offline at the end of December. Chancellor Olaf Scholz is said to support Habeck’s plans.
FDP leader Christian Lindner, on the other hand, calls for the continued operation of three nuclear power plants until 2024. “I have doubts whether we are wisely advised to forgo energy supply capacities, especially if they are climate-friendly,” he said Süddeutsche Zeitung. But Habeck is the specialist minister. “He has to take responsibility for that.” Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) said that the Ministry of Economic Affairs was “clearly overwhelmed”.
The Greens chairmen are now campaigning for Habeck’s proposal at the party base. The first reactions were mostly positive, it said. The project is an “imposition, but necessary,” said party leader Omid Nouripour in the ZDF “Morgenmagazin”. The Greens consider it unlikely that the FDP will actually oppose the nuclear reserve operation in the Bundestag vote, i.e. against the chancellor and economics minister. If no agreement is reached, the statutory nuclear phase-out at the end of 2022 would remain.
But there is also resentment among the operators of the nuclear power plants. “It doesn’t work that way,” said industry circles on Tuesday. There is not a single nuclear power plant in the world that is held in reserve. Nuclear power plants that are idle need several days before they can supply electricity. In the short term, they cannot use it to eliminate bottlenecks. However, Habeck had also emphasized that he only wanted to use the reserve if bottlenecks became apparent in the long term – for example because the failure of French nuclear power plants was taking longer than planned.