The nuclear industry association is calling for an extension of operating lifetimes. But in Germany, there is a lack of political will, and the operators are profiting from the green energy business. The damage is paid by the citizen.
By Holger Douglas
There could not be a better symbolic image: the demolition of the Philippsburg nuclear power plant. No sooner had the last block of the fully functional power plant been shut down than the Socialist-Green Minister President of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, had the cooling towers blasted. The phase-out couldn’t happen fast enough for him.
A visible sign of an ideology in which billions are destroyed without anyone in charge being particularly bothered. Minister President Kretschmann is responsible for turning the former electricity export state of Baden-Württemberg into a state that now has to import a third of its electricity.
Panic now spreading among green energy supporters
With the Mülheim-Kärlich nuclear power plant near Koblenz, the state of Rhineland-Palatinate destroyed another almost new nuclear power plant – which has not delivered any significant output. Green-Socialist ideology in a federal state that is incapable of reliably warning its people of a flood. Just as irresponsibly, the energy supply of an entire country was reduced to rubble. An unprecedented experiment.
But is reality now overtaking Green-Socialist wishful thinking? Energy is becoming scarce and increasingly expensive, companies are closing down and relocating. Energy costs are playing a central role in calculations. The energy supply now depends on a pipeline from Russia, and that has become a supplier with which one no longer wants to cooperate due to the war of aggression on Ukraine. There is a sense of panic among the Red-Greens.
Green Party leader and Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck’s is waking up, his bows and entreaties in Qatar aren’t helping – the small country in the Persian Gulf is booked up and won’t be able to supply more liquid natural gas until 2025 at the earliest. It is bizarre to see his desperation to demand that the natural gas storage facilities be 90 percent full by the fall. No amount of “stamping one’s foot on the ground” or legislation will help: If there is no natural gas and not even the question of who will pay for the 70 to 100 billion euros that “one fill-up” will cost, then there will be nothing.
Association sends urgent letter to Chancellor Scholz: longer operating times for nuclear power plants
External pressure is making it increasingly clear that playing around with the energy supply is life-threatening. So far, without a democratic mandate, environmental NGOs are attacking what a state must provide: a secure and affordable energy supply, safe food supplies and protection – in return for the citizen laying down his arms. That deal is working out less and less.
16 of 19 nuclear power stations have been closed
There seems to be movement on the nuclear power issue. Now “Kerntechnik Deutschland e.V.,” the nuclear industry’s trade association, is sending Chancellor Scholz an urgent letter calling on him to extend the operating lifetimes of the last three remaining nuclear power plants in Germany. In view of the current “emergency situation,” in which Russian energy supplies must be replaced as quickly as possible, steps must be taken immediately to ensure security of supply, the letter says.
In order to be prepared in a further escalating situation as a result of the war over Ukraine, which may well lead to gaps in the power supply this year, or at worst in the coming winter of 2022/2023, all available energy sources must be used. In the case of power supply, these undoubtedly include German nuclear power plants, which with their round-the-clock availability, and in addition in a climate-friendly manner, not only stabilize the power grid in an emergency, but also with their generation can cover a considerable part of the base load demand.”
But that train seems to have left. Of the 19 nuclear power plants that once supplied Germany with electricity, only three are still in operation. These still supply 11 percent of the electricity, continuously, inexpensively and reliably – but they are scheduled to be shut down toward the end of the year. The German coalition government have not yet been able to answer where the electricity will then come.
The utilities have gotten accustomed to their subsidized wind farms
From the ranks of the utilities, one hears that it is possible in principle to keep the last three nuclear reactors running. Most recently, E.ON stated that continued operation would be possible if politicians wanted it. It is a question of money. Only the chief opportunist from the conservative CSU, Markus Söder, seems to be slowly realizing that the wind is changing.
All too understandable is the power utilities have grown afraid of dealing with nuclear power. The battles over nuclear power plants have cost them too much money, nerves and time. Now they are earning their good money with highly subsidized wind farms. Regardless of whether they supply electricity or not, as nonsensical it may be, it’s a secure source of income. A company committed to business principles may not care at first where the money it earns comes from. But it does not escape their attention that this business model is limited in time, and train is about to collide into a wall. But there is a willingness to talk among the utilities.
Utility EnBW in Baden-Württemberg also says that nuclear power plants can continue to run. EnBW operates Neckarwestheim 2, the last nuclear power plant in Baden-Württemberg. The technical prerequisites are in place, emphasized CEO Frank Mastiaux. The nuclear power plant is a very, very safe power plant, he said. The Green-Socialist Federal Environment Ministry made the claim that continued operation was not recommended for safety reasons.
Lacking political will
Fuel rods are not available in the supermarket around the corner, they have to be ordered. But this is basically feasible, it takes awhile. Nuclear power expert Manfred Haferburg is right in his assessment that this will take a long time. The realist has already had to read numerous files of documentation. Not all of them are nonsensical paperwork, but concern essential safety issues.
A nuclear power plant is not a coffee machine that you can just turn on or off. It’s much more complicated than the ideologized head of a Green Youth chairwoman wants to get into.
Moreover, as Kerntechnik Deutschland points out, “nuclear power plants could continue to operate without any problems this summer until at least next spring by means of so-called stretch operation and, if necessary, fuel-saving operation. If desired, they could also contribute to the security of the German and European power supply for several more years by reloading with new fuel elements and at the same time reduce the dependence on imports of fossil fuels. This measure could be decided immediately and implemented in the short term. Unlike, for example, the new liquefied natural gas terminals currently under consideration or even additions of renewable energies with associated grid expansion.”
But the political will is clearly lacking. Habeck also had his Ministry of Economics declare some time ago that nuclear power plants were too unsafe – without, however, having consulted the safety experts.
Those who rely on wind power are forsaken
The destructive work of the Greens and Socialists (including those actively assisting them in the CDU) has been thoroughly successful. Formerly flourishing research landscapes such as those at the nuclear research center in Karlsruhe or Jülich have been wiped out. On the other hand, “research institutes” that were supposed to determine how much potential there is in the “renewables” have been boosted with a lot of money. They tell us that wind and sun are sufficient to supply a country with energy. They earn a lot of money with research contracts that are supposed to show how a “hydrogen economy” works. All that is needed, they say, is to multiply the efforts. However, the past weeks show it drastically: no wind – no electricity from the wind turbines. Anyone who relies on wind power and the green energy transition has been abandoned.
Perhaps Habeck will soon have to take an even deeper bow. Not to his acolytes, though, but to the majority of those citizens who have to pay for the massive damage already done to the infrastructure and industrial landscape – by pure ideology.
So far, reality has always triumphed over faith in the end.