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Eco-energy disputes in Germany. I extend the Germans



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The German Minister of Economy, Robert Habeck, on Sunday ruled out extending the life of the three nuclear power plants still in operation in the country, in order to save gas, saying that no more than 2% of gas consumption would be saved, reports Reuters.

Those savings were not enough to merit reopening the debate on giving up nuclear power, given the consensus on the issue, he said during a discussion with citizens at the government’s open day.

Former Chancellor Angela Merkel initiated legislation to end the use of nuclear power by the end of this year after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, with a majority of voters in favor of the measure.

But attitudes are changing amid fears of an energy crisis this winter as Russian gas supplies drop — with the tripartite coalition itself divided on the issue.

“It’s the wrong decision, given the little we would save,” said Habeck, a member of the Green Party, which has its roots in the anti-nuclear movement of the 1970s and 80s.

On the other side of the debate, Finance Minister Christian Lindner, representative of the pro-business Free Democrats, reiterated his position that it would be better to extend the life of nuclear plants for a limited period than to restart coal plants .

“We shouldn’t be too demanding, but we should reserve all possibilities,” he said, adding that he would be open to an extension of “a few years” under the current circumstances.

Separately from the debate over gas-saving measures, Habeck said he was open to extending the life of a nuclear power plant in Bavaria if a stress test showed it was necessary to ensure the stability and supply of the electricity grid in in the winter, he said.

Habeck accused the southern state, which depends on gas-fired power plants and has few coal-fired plants, that it could contribute to the problems by failing to develop wind power generation and improve the grid.

The fact that Germany has to supply electricity to France due to declining nuclear production is another factor to consider.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the result of the stress test should come towards the end of August or early next month – and only then will a decision be made.

The situation in France, where nearly half of its reactors are offline due to corrosion and maintenance problems, shows how problematic the technology is, he said.

The new plants were so expensive that they drove up electricity prices, unlike renewables, he said.