3rd Oct 2023

Germany's Scholz signals possible U-turn on nuclear

  • The Nord Stream 1 pipeline connects Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea (Photo: nord-stream2.com)
Listen to article

German chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday (3 August) that his government could postpone the planned closure of its remaining nuclear power plants — a major U-turn for a coalition government that includes the Green party.

Scholz said extending the life of the country's nuclear reactors "can make sense," as the country could face gas shortages amid Russia's war in Ukraine.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

He added however that the nuclear power plants were only relevant for a small proportion of electricity production in Germany.

If Scholz's government goes through with the decision it could mark a U-turn for his government policies.

Former chancellor Angela Merkel made a commitment to phase-out nuclear power after Japan's Fukushima disaster in 2011. The country's final three reactors had been expected to stop production at the end of this year.

Opposition to nuclear power, meanwhile, has been a key component of the Green party's identity.

The third member of Scholz's coalition, the liberal Free Democrats, has been supportive of the extension.

In total, the nuclear reactors accounts for six percent of Germany's electricity output, AFP reported.

Berlin has said earlier that it will await the outcome of a new "stress test" of the national electric grid before deciding on the phase-out.

Turbine conflict

Scholz also criticised Russia's decision to cut the flow of gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline citing technical issues, which could hit the EU's largest economy hard.

Last month, Russia shut down Nord Stream pipeline, connecting Russia and Germany, for scheduled annual maintenance.

But when that ended, Russia's Gazprom company only restored the flow in the pipeline to 40 percent of its capacity, which since has been cut to 20 percent, saying it could not maintain normal flow without a turbine that has been under maintenance in Canada.

On Wednesday, Scholz rejected Moscow's argument, saying it was Russia that refused to take delivery of the turbine.

"What's important to me is to make it clear that this turbine is ready for action at any time," Scholz told a news conference standing next to the turbine at the Siemens Energy factory in Muelheim.

"There is nothing preventing it from being transported to Russia," he added.

"It's quite clear and simple: the turbine is there and can be delivered, but someone needs to say 'I want to have it'," Scholz pointed out.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the turbine lacks documentation proving it isn't subject to sanctions, Bloomberg reported.

However, a German government spokesman responded by saying no such documentation on sanctions is required, and the turbine is not hit by EU sanctions.

The looming gas shortage has triggered fears of energy rationing.

Russia cuts Nord Stream 1 gas to 20% capacity

It comes a day after EU governments approved a watered-down plan to curb gas demand by 15 percent, aimed at lowering consumption, building storage, and sharing supplies if Russia in future cuts all exports.

Legal action looms after MEPs back 'green' nuclear and gas

The European Parliament greenlighted the commission's controversial proposal to include gas and nuclear investments in the so-called EU taxonomy — sparking criticism and legal threats from the climate community


Where Germany's Greens and FDP will collide on environment

The Greens and the FDP disagree on major political issues. While they both support the climate battle, their ways of ushering change are vastly different: the Greens advocate tougher environmental laws and regulations, and the FDP calls for market-based solutions.

Conditions met for German nuclear extension, officials say

Conditions have been met for the German government to allow a temporary lifetime extension of three remaining nuclear reactors, according to the Wall Street Journal, as the country is facing a likely shortage of gas this winter.


Russia puts EU in nuclear-energy paradox

There's unprecedented international anxiety about the safety of Ukraine's nuclear reactors, but many European countries are also turning to nuclear power to secure energy supplies.


Is the ECB sabotaging Europe's Green Deal?

The European Central Bank (ECB) recently raised interest rates to the highest point in the currency's 21-year existence — but the effects of its policies on renewables are badly understood.


How do you make embarrassing EU documents 'disappear'?

The EU Commission's new magic formula for avoiding scrutiny is simple. You declare the documents in question to be "short-lived correspondence for a preliminary exchange of views" and thus exempt them from being logged in the official inventory.

Latest News

  1. EU demands 'full clarity' from Warsaw on visa-scandal
  2. EU reveals 10 'critical tech' in bid to de-risk from China
  3. EU Commission at a loss over latest snub from Tunisia
  4. Northern Europe — the new Nato/Russia frontline
  5. The EU-Kenya free trade deal shows a waning 'Brussels effect'
  6. Hoekstra pledges to phase-out fossil fuel subsidies
  7. 10 years on from the Lampedusa shipwreck — what's changed?
  8. EU ministers go to Kyiv to downplay fears on US, Slovak aid

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  2. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators, industry & healthcare experts at the 24th IMDRF session, September 25-26, Berlin. Register by 20 Sept to join in person or online.
  3. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  4. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  5. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators & industry experts at the 24th IMDRF session- Berlin September 25-26. Register early for discounted hotel rates
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us