German Greens deny report on nuclear plant extensions

Nuclear plant at Grafenrheinfeld. (Image by Christian VisualBeo Horvat, Wikimedia Commons).

Germany’s Green Party denied a report that it will back a plan allowing some of the nation’s nuclear power plants to continue operating beyond a previously set phase-out date, as the nation confronts its worst energy shortages in decades.

Bild reported that leaders of the Greens, a member of Germany’s ruling coalition, discussed the issue on a call Thursday evening — before Friday’s announcement by Russia’s Gazprom PJSC that its key gas pipeline to Europe won’t reopen as planned.

The officials decided they could support extending the life cycle of two out of three German atomic power plants — currently slated to go off-line at the end of the year — through next summer, Bild reported.

A Green Party spokesman told Bloomberg News that Saturday’s Bild report was inaccurate, and cautioned against what was termed wild speculation.

The issue is likely to come up in talks this weekend, according to Bild, which said Economy Minister Robert Habeck will present the results of a keenly awaited report studying the feasibility of the nuclear power option.

Both a government official said the stress test results aren’t expected this weekend. Talks in Berlin are expected to focus on a third relief package to help German households and companies cope with soaring energy bills.

Germany has been inching toward keeping the reactors open as it faces an energy supply crunch triggered by reduced supplies of Russian gas. The earlier determination to exit nuclear power permanently by the end of 2022 has long been a core tenet of the Green Party’s policy demands.

The crisis deepened when Gazprom once again cut off gas supplies to Europe, saying the move to halt flows indefinitely was necessary because of a defect in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. European politicians have said it’s an effort by Moscow to use energy as a weapon.

Germany has urged citizens to lower their energy consumption as a way to help build stockpiles before winter, and last week slapped a levy on gas use. It’s also seeking to bring back certain coal plants, and is investing in infrastructure to import more liquefied natural gas.

The operators of Germany nuclear power plants, including EON SE and RWE AG, have said they’re open to discussing the extension with lawmakers, but stressed the need for a swift decision.

(By Steven Arons)


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