German Government Lied About Nuclear
Germany's Economy and Climate Minister, a Green Party leader, lied about nuclear fuel rods
The German government is moving forward with plans to close its last three nuclear plants this December despite Europe being gripped by the worst energy crisis in 50 years. Robert Habeck, Germany’s Vice Chancellor and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, said there is no point in operating them because Germany lacks natural gas, not electricity.
“Nuclear power doesn’t help us there at all,” Habeck said on Tuesday. “We have a heating problem or an industry problem, but not an electricity problem — at least not generally throughout the country.”
Besides, Habeck said, only Russia could provide Germany with the uranium fuel rods required to keep the nuclear plants operating, and there was no way to make sure the plants would be able to operate safely.
But none of what Habeck said was true. Coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy all generate electricity. Less nuclear means using more of coal or natural gas, which is why the German Cabinet, led by Habeck, just approved burning more coal.
As for safety, the leading provider of nuclear safety testing said Germany’s nuclear plants could keep operating safely after December. "The plants are in a technically excellent condition," said Joachim Buehler, managing director of TUEV. Buehler said that an extensive check, which is usually done every decade, could instead be done within a few months.
It’s true that keeping the three reactors on-line won’t do that much to reduce Germany’s dependence on Russian natural gas. In 2022, nuclear plants will only provide 6% of Germany’s electricity. And if their operation were stretched out in 2023 through reduced use of fuel, German nuclear plants could only save 1.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas in the EU area through the winter and spring, out of a 20 bcm shortfall, assuming Russia follows through with its natural gas cut-off, as most now believe is likely.
But, in a crisis, every bit matters, and the amount that nuclear can offset matters much more than many of the other measures Habeck and others have promoted including showering less frequently, closing the curtains at night, and communiting by bike rather than car. For that reason, a new European Commission report on the natural gas crisis, which was set to be released next Wednesday but was leaked yesterday, called on Germany to postpone its nuclear phase-out because it was necessary for nations to “take into account the impact on the security of supply on other Member States.”
And it is rather rich for Habeck, a member of the Green Party, to point out nuclear’s limits. After all, it was the Green Party that led the campaign to reduce Germany’s use of nuclear energy from 25% of electricity ten years ago to just 6% today.
As for the fuel rods, Australia, Canada, and the United States could all create fuel rods to supply the plants and, just now, Die Welt has reported that, in a confidential meeting on March 4, 10 days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, nuclear energy representatives told Habeck and Steffi Lemke, the Minister for Nuclear Safety, who is also from the Green Party, that they could indeed accelerate the acquisition of nuclear fuel rods.
“So far,” notes Die Welt, “the federal government has always emphasized the long delivery times for fuel rods, which alone represent an insurmountable obstacle to extending the service life of German nuclear power plants. The fact that procurement would also be conceivable in 15 months, and thus realistic continued operation under full load from the middle of next year, is generally pushed into the background by government representatives.”
In fact, the rods could have been acquired even more quickly than 15 months. In February, just days after Putin’s invasion, the German government asked the US nuclear fuel manufacturer, Westinghouse, an established supplier of German nuclear plants, whether it could make fuel rods on short notice. Westinghouse managers said they could — and that they could deliver them by the end of 2022.
Lemke and Habeck declined both the offer from Westinghouse and from nuclear operators. As such, it’s now clear that Habeck, Lemke, and other German officials have repeatedly lied, not only about the nuclear fuel rods, but also thus about the broader energy crisis.
As such, anti-nuclear Greens are putting Europe in grave danger. A majority of Germans are already ready to cave in to Putin. New polling shows that German support for the boycott of Russian gas had fallen from 44% six weeks ago to just 32% last week. And now, household energy costs are expected to triple in Germany. Government officials are openly expressing concern over the possibility of social unrest.
Why are Greens putting their anti-nuclear agenda ahead of protecting European civilization? And what can be done to stop them?