Germany puts coal-fired power plant back on the grid after gas supply cut | Germany

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A mothballed coal-fired power plant has become the first of its kind to be put back on the grid in Germany, as debate rages over how Europe’s biggest economy will manage without Russian gas.

The Lower Saxony facility, which is owned by Czech energy company EGH, has been given emergency permission to operate until April in a bid to boost power generation.

The move was described by German Economy Minister Robert Habeck, a leading Green, as a necessary evil, as he acknowledged it was a huge setback to the country’s attempts to tackle the climate crisis.

Meanwhile, the German Greens have ruled out extending the lifespan of nuclear power plants which are to be mothballed by the end of the year.

Ricarda Lang, leader of the Greens, who form a coalition government with the Social Democrats and the business-friendly FDP, said such a move would not happen while her party was in government.

She rejected calls by FDP Finance Minister Christian Lindner to keep open until around 2024 if necessary three nuclear power plants due to shut down by the end of this year.

Germany is heavily dependent on Russian gas and supplies through its largest gas pipeline, Nord Stream 1 via the Baltic Sea, are currently at around 20% of expected levels, in what has been widely interpreted as a retaliatory move by Moscow. against the sanctions imposed as a result of its invasion of Ukraine.

Politicians have warned of crisis conditions this winter and next as Germany tries to tackle the energy deficit. Restrictions have been imposed on the heating of public buildings, including swimming pools and town halls, and companies have been told to allow employers to work from home where possible to avoid the heating of large office buildings. Industry and the public are encouraged to reduce their energy consumption.

Resuming the use of nuclear power plants, which Angela Merkel’s government said in 2011 Germany would turn its back on following the Fukushima nuclear accident, is seen as a very difficult option. This would involve committing to years of investment, and the necessary equipment, know-how and human resources are lacking.

Lang, in an extensive interview with Die Zeit, said there was no future for nuclear energy in Germany. “What Christian Lindner is proposing is nothing more than a revival of the nuclear energy industry,” she said. “And that won’t happen, at least on our watch.”

She complained of a “lack of seriousness” in the debate, which has been raging for weeks. “Atomic energy is a very risky technology,” Lang said, acknowledging at the same time that many Germans were worried after gas from Russia was cut.

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“But we need answers that actually fit the problem,” she said. “We have a heat problem, not an electricity problem.” She said that atomic energy could only to a small extent replace failing gas supplies. The three nuclear power plants still in operation provide the equivalent of around 6% of Germany’s electricity needs, and part of the energy is exported to France.

Last year, 12.6% of Germany’s electricity – 65.2 billion kWh – was produced by gas-fired power stations.

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