BERLIN – Germany’s leading conservative politician will visit one of the country’s last remaining nuclear power plants on Thursday, as part of an effort to urge the government to abandon its plans to withdraw from nuclear power amid growing fears that it will be damaged by Russia’s war in Ukraine. The looming energy crisis.
Germany is preparing to be one of the worst hits in Europe’s efforts to wean itself off Russia’s fossil fuels to punish Moscow for aggression. That has led some parties — notably the center-right Christian Democrats in the opposition, and one of the government’s coalition parties, the pro-business Liberal Democrats — to push Germany to keep its last three nuclear power plants online.
Chancellor Angela Merkel began shutting down the country’s nuclear power generation in 2011 after an earthquake and tsunami in Japan caused the Fukushima nuclear power plant to overheat and explode. The leader of the southern state of Bavaria, Martin Soder, and the leader of the Christian Democrats, Friedrich Merz, visited the Bavarian Isar 2 factory on Thursday, after Merkel’s successor Chancellor Olaf Schultz hinted He might be willing to reverse her decision.
Scholz said on Wednesday that it “makes sense” to operate Germany’s last three nuclear power plants after the Dec. 31, 2022 decommissioning date, given the current situation. He insisted that any such move would not be decided by his government, but rather by a series of stress tests on Germany’s power system to determine whether the plants are needed and whether they can operate safely past the shutdown date.
The Germans are among the most cautious about nuclear energy in Europe. Leaders of his party and coalition partners almost immediately dismissed his remarks, showing how contentious the country’s nuclear power issue is.
“We will not revise the phase-out of nuclear energy,” Social Democrat leader Saskia Esken said on Wednesday. Green foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said extending the life of the power plants was “not an option”.
Scholz stressed on Wednesday that keeping the three nuclear power plants open is mainly to meet the needs of the Bavarian region. Home to companies driving German industry, Bavaria could face severe energy shortages, which could be alleviated by keeping the Isar 2 plant running.
However, Mr Söder said before visiting Isar 2 that Mr Scholz’s government was moving too slowly. He argued that the government, which took office in December, had “hesitated for too long”.
“Why are you in doubt again?” Mr Soder told German news agency DPA: “We need to make a decision now.”