Germany vetoes nuclear power extension, aims for LNG terminal in 2024
BERLIN (Reuters) -Germany on Tuesday poured cold water on extending the life-span of its nuclear plants to help cut its reliance on Russian gas, saying it needed instead to build up alternative energy sources at “Tesla speed”.
Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the country’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, announced last weekend, should be ready within two years.
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Europe’s largest economy late last month floated the idea of keeping nuclear plants as part of its energy mix to diversify away from Russia, which delivers most of Germany’s natural gas.
But the economy and environment ministries said on Tuesday that after looking at both short-term and mid-term scenarios, they had decided that the costs and risks of keeping nuclear facilities open outweighed limited benefits. Germany’s last remaining nuclear plants are due to close this year.
“As a result of weighing up the benefits and risks, an extension of the operating lives of the three remaining nuclear power plants is not recommended, also in view of the current gas crisis,” the ministries said in a joint statement.
Germany’s remaining three nuclear plants are operated by energy firms EnBW, RWE and E.ON.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany has mapped out changes to its energy system to cut dependence on Russian gas, which accounts for two thirds of Germany’s natural gas imports.
After talks with the energy ministers of Germany’s 16 states, Habeck said the country must diversify its energy sources, including by building an LNG terminal in the north, as fast as possible.
“We totally agree that the construction of electricity networks, LNG terminals and renewable energy must be done at ‘Tesla speed’,” Habeck told a news conference.
Asked how long it would take before the planned LNG terminal can replace Russian gas, Habeck referred to the two years it took Tesla to complete construction of its megafactory outside Berlin.
Other alternatives under consideration include more solar and wind power and keeping coal-fired power plants that are due to shut down on standby for emergencies.
(Reporting by Maria Sheahan, Christoph Steitz and Joseph Nasr; Editing by Zuzanna SzymanskaEditing by Paul Carrel and Susan Fenton)