The Neckarwestheim nuclear power plant in Germany. (Photo: EnBW)
German chancellor Olaf Scholz has provided what appears to be the final word on the fate of his country’s three remaining operating nuclear power plants.
Via an October 17 letter, Scholz informed economy and energy minister Robert Habeck, environment minister Steffi Lemke, and finance minister Christian Lindner of his decision to keep all three facilities operating “beyond 31 December 2022 until 15 April 2023 at the latest.” The order ends months of argument between Scholz’s two coalition partners—the stridently antinuclear Greens and the center-right Free Democrats (FDP)—regarding the plants’ continued operation. (Habeck and Lemke are Green Party members, while Lindner is with the FDP.)
The Neckarwestheim nuclear power plant in Germany.
For the few members of the nuclear community who haven’t already been made aware, the Wall Street Journal yesterday published a story headlined “Germany to Keep Last Three Nuclear Power Plants Running in Policy U-Turn.” According to the WSJ, the German government plans to postpone retirement of the plants—all of which had been slated for closure by the end of 2022—fearing an inadequate energy supply this winter.
E.ON subsidiary Preussen Elektra’s Grohnde nuclear plant, located near the town of Hameln in Lower Saxony, on the banks of the Weser River. (Wikimedia/Heinz-Josef Lücking)
(Source: Peter Schrank/The Economist)
“Where nuclear power was once a source of unity for Europe, today it is a source of discord.” So states The Economist’s October 30 “Charlemagne” column—a regular source of commentary on European politics in the weekly publication—before deftly dissecting nuclear power’s continental divide and picking a winner.
The Brokdorf nuclear plant, located in Germany’s Schleswig-Holstein region on the Elbe river, is scheduled to close later this year. (Photo: Alois Staudacher, CC BY-SA 3.0)
In an open letter published last week in Welt, 25 leading German and foreign academics, environmentalists, and journalists attempt to convince the German people that continuing with their nation’s phase-out of nuclear power is not a good idea, and certainly not a green one.