Scholz 'completely fallen for Russian trap' says Gustav Gressel
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Germany’s three remaining nuclear plants were scheduled to shutdown by the end of the year as part of a long-planned nuclear phase-out. But after Russia slashed gas deliveries, it sparked panic for Berlin, which is now in the second phase of an emergency plan and one step away from gas rationing. With gas flowing through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany at just 20 percent of its normal capacity, the situation is appearing so dire in Germany that it is even threatening to push the country into a recession.
To limit the impacts of the gas crisis on industries and households, Berlin is now under pressure to keep its remaining nuclear plants open.
Only E.ON, EnBW and RWE remain, supplying the nation with six percent of its power.
While any extension has yet to be officially rolled out, with details still in discussion, officials are said to have concluded that the plants are needed to avoid a winter catastrophe.
Last week, the German Chancellor said that extending the life of these nuclear plants would “make sense” given the current situation.
If Mr Scholz made this move, it would go against his predecessor Angela Merkel’s pledge to shut them down following Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011.
But before making a decision, Mr Scholz said officials would need to draw conclusions from a stress test of the German electricity system.
A spokesman for Environment Minister Steffi Lemke from the German Greens, which is part of the coalition Government with Mr Scholz’s SDP, said: “At the moment we are assuming that Germany will phase out nuclear power.”
This is despite the Greens traditionally being opposed to nuclear power based on environmental concerns.
But due to winter shortage fears as Putin continues to slash gas transiting to Germany, splits are now forming in the Green party as it scrambles to avert a crisis.
Katrin Göring-Eckardt, a Green vice president of the Bundestag, said: If we have a real emergency situation, that hospitals can’t work anymore … we have to talk about [stretching] the fuel.”
But a number of high-ranking Green officials and branches are voicing opposition to the nuclear U-turn, as have members of Mr Scholz’s own party – the SDP.
Britta Haßelmann, leader of the Greens in the Bundestag, said: “There is a social consensus on phasing out nuclear power, which we are not jeopardizing”.
She added that “we must not deviate from the German safety philosophy”.
As well as eying the nuclear U-turn, Germany is also scrambling to ramp up its gas storage capacity ahead of the winter.
This month, the country’s natural gas storage facilities surpassed a fill level of more than 75 percent, which could help to provide households with fuel over during the colder months.
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The nation is aiming to reach storage levels of 95 percent by November.
But Andreas Schroeder, head of energy analytics at ICIS, “storage is not enough”, adding that “you need demand reductions as well”.
Now, Germany’s own politicians are complaining about the country’s huge dependence on Russian gas.
Economy Minister Robert Habeck said: “Germany developed a business model that was largely based on dependence on cheap Russian gas and thus also a dependence on a president who disregards international law [and] to whom liberal democracy and its values are declared enemies.
“This model has failed, and it is not coming back.”
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