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Energy – municipal utilities call for an end to the debate about the revival of nuclear power

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Energy – municipal utilities call for an end to the debate about the revival of nuclear power

Nuclear power plant (archive), via dts news agency

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Berlin (dts news agency) – In view of ongoing calls from the CDU, CSU and FDP for a nuclear power revival, Germany’s public utilities are calling for an end to the nuclear power debate.

“We have an interest in ensuring that there are reliable energy policy framework conditions in the long term. That’s why we don’t rely on nuclear energy, which no longer offers a solution in the short term,” said Ingbert Liebing, general manager of the Association of Municipal Companies (VKU), to the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung” .

A return to nuclear power is “not an issue” for the municipal utilities because: “The last three nuclear power plants that were shut down are being dismantled. Their operators say they will not be able to put them back into operation because extensive and expensive modernization and approval procedures would be necessary. Point.”

There was a political decision to phase out nuclear energy a long time ago, said Liebing. “Since then, we have been restructuring the energy system without nuclear power: from a centralized to a decentralized supply structure. This also makes us more resilient,” said the VKU general manager. To his knowledge, there is “no municipal utility that would invest in a nuclear power renaissance or even the construction of new reactors.”

The draft of the CDU’s new policy program calls for a comeback of nuclear power in Germany. CSU boss Markus Söder wants to build new reactors in the event of a Union-led next federal government. The FDP also repeatedly says that the nuclear phase-out was a “strategic mistake”.

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There are no plans in the traffic light government to reverse the phase-out. In addition to the massive expansion of wind and solar energy, Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) is focusing on new gas power plants that can be converted to hydrogen.

However, the municipal utilities are alarmed that there are no concrete plans for this yet. “So far there are only key points, only a political agreement, but no fully developed strategy, and that makes us very worried,” said VKU boss Liebing to the NOZ, because planning, approval and construction of power plants takes an average of six years. “The impasse in the power plant strategy is really very annoying and must be ended,” said the VKU boss.

In addition, the amount of gas power plant output of 10 gigawatts that Habeck wants to put out for tender will not be enough. “Because we have to replace the coal-fired power plants that are being shut down, and we have to create an additional reserve in order to generate enough electricity even when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine,” explained Liebing. “According to the government’s findings, this requires an output of 17 to 25 gigawatts.”

There will always be enough electricity in Germany, also because of the EU internal market, he continued. “But if the country doesn’t have enough of its own hydrogen-capable gas power plants by 2030, and that is becoming more and more questionable every day, we will either have to burn coal for longer or buy nuclear power from France,” said Liebing. “The federal government must therefore finally create the necessary incentives, i.e. present a concrete tender design, so that the new power plants can be built, including smaller and decentralized CHP plants.” The municipal utilities would like to take part in this. Because there is no clarity, no one can yet plan investments in power plants and no bank can find financing.

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The municipal utilities don’t think much of the controversial capture and storage of CO2 that Habeck wants to allow for gas power plants. “We are committed to the goal of ending the burning of fossil natural gas and replacing it with climate-neutral gases,” said Liebing to the NOZ. The municipal utilities also assumed that there would be enough affordable hydrogen available for the switch in Germany by the middle of the next decade.

“The countries in North Africa and the Middle East that can produce hydrogen themselves have a huge interest in supplying us because they will no longer be able to get rid of their oil and gas and because a large sales market for hydrogen is emerging in Europe,” said Liebing’s justification. “We very much welcome the energy partnerships that the federal government is concluding, most recently with Algeria.”

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