“It was an informational visit. It brought exactly the information we were hoping for, namely that continued operation is possible.” That’s what Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) said after visiting the Isar 2 nuclear power plant. The CDU chairman Friedrich Merz, who accompanied Söder, added: “Today we visited one of the best nuclear power plants in the world.”
The federal government must act now, said Söder, who, together with Merz, is demanding that the Isar 2 nuclear power plant be allowed to run beyond the planned shutdown date of December 31, 2022. It is not clear whether delays are being made on purpose in order to be able to say afterwards that it no longer makes sense. “We won’t let them get away with that,” said Söder.
On July 17, 2022, the Federal Ministry of Economics initiated a second stress test for security of supply on the electricity market. Members of the traffic light coalition refer to the resulting findings, which according to the ministry should be available to heise online in a few weeks, as to whether the three remaining nuclear power plants in Germany – in addition to Isar 2, Neckarwestheim 2 and Emsland – in continue to operate next year. On Wednesday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz was open to longer terms.
Germany is in an energy emergency, Söder emphasized, an existential gas problem that could be compounded by a huge electricity problem. It is therefore important to do everything that is necessary now to get through the winter well. The Federal Network Agency said the problems would last until mid-2024, so planning must also be made for that time.
The coalition is arguing internally about the issue. In addition, she presented untruths. One of them, that continued operation was not possible, was “clearly refuted” by TÜV Süd. It is also untrue that there are no staff to continue operations. Merz added that the necessary fuel rods do not have to come from Russia, they could be procured from Sweden, Canada and the USA. He mentioned the Westinghouse company.
After inspecting the nuclear power plant, Merz said: “I come to the conclusion for myself and for the parliamentary group that the continued operation of such a nuclear power plant is technically possible. It is possible in terms of personnel and it is legally possible.” Now it just has to be politically possible. During the current summer break, this must not only be debated in committees, but in the plenary session of the Bundestag. A decision could be made to let the nuclear power plants run beyond the turn of the year 2023/2024 in order to secure the power supply in Germany.
“50 year old athlete”
In the discussion about a possible extension of the service life, the Union parties cite an expert opinion in which TÜV Süd found that Isar 2 could continue to run and that the Gundremmingen C nuclear power plant, which had already been shut down, could go back on line. On behalf of Greenpeace, Hamburg lawyers believe that the TÜV has submitted a courtesy report.
Thorsten Glauber from the Free Voters, who also took part in the factory tour as Bavarian Minister for the Environment, spoke about this TÜV report. From this it becomes clear that a stretching operation is possible. “The power plant is a 50-year-old athlete that we are now retiring. Can we really afford that at this time,” asked Glauber and answered himself: “I don’t think so.” In the end, fact-based politics should decide.