The economy in Schleswig-Holstein continues to favor nuclear energy

keel. In the face of the threat of energy bottlenecks in Germany, the debate about the last three German nuclear power plants continues. In theory, even Schleswig-Holstein can still contribute to energy security, as the Brokdorf nuclear power plant has only been out of the grid for a few months – but it’s far from closed. Politically, however, the chances of a resumption are rather slim.

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Even the Greens do not want to stick to the strict abandonment of nuclear power until the end of the year. At least in Bavaria, the first voices of the party appear, which for some time do not consider the further operation of the remaining reactors to be sacrilegious. The federal government continues to insist that the Emsland, Neckarwestheim 2 and Isar 2 nuclear power plants will cease operation on December 31 this year.

The topic of nuclear energy is intensively discussed in the Schleswig-Holstein companies

The Federal Ministry of Economy does not expect electricity to become scarce – unlike gas. However, this is currently being checked with a stress test. Experts, on the other hand, believe that electricity difficulties are possible in winter when wind and sun are scarce, resulting in a dark stagnation and failure of French nuclear power plants. The French have apparently just noticed damage to their stacks.

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Concerns are therefore also spreading in Schleswig-Holstein, especially in the economy. Mainly because energy problems cannot be solved quickly. It is expected to last for years. – The topic of nuclear energy is discussed intensively here – says Stefan Lange, chairman of the Ministry of Treasury and the CDU Economic Union in Schleswig-Holstein (MIT). “The further operation of the three power plants that are still connected to the grid can make a significant contribution,” he says clearly.

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Gas cannot be replaced one-to-one with electricity. “However, we consider it important whether the base load of the network does not have to be generated by gas-fired plants or not only by gas-fired plants in periods of darkness,” says Lange. “We will have to save, but the cuts would not be so severe.” The very withdrawal from nuclear power is not questioned by MIT.

The Schleswig-Holstein Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) points to a high level of security of supply in the state. “However, companies are concerned that this situation may worsen,” says Kiel Managing Director Jörg Orlemann. “With the coming interruptions in Russian gas supplies, the risk of a bottleneck in energy supplies is also growing.”

Kiel Chamber of Commerce and Industry: Nuclear energy increases gas savings potential

Therefore, “it is important not to abandon the expansion of renewable energy,” says Orlemann. But: “Essentially, nuclear power will broaden the energy supply mix in Germany, increase the savings potential in gas consumption and thus increase security of supply. If life extension is a reasonable option, we cannot exclude it for ideological reasons – says the president.

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There is sober realism in the case of the Brokdorf reactor, which was only shut down at the turn of the year. Restarting the plants “is, in our opinion, less likely than extending the life of nuclear plants that are still connected to the grid,” says Orlemann. Stefan Lange expresses himself in a similar way: “I don’t see any political majority in it.” The process takes years and public opinion may change again during this time.

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The Brokdorf power plant on the Elbe in the Steinburg district is currently in postoperative mode. Decommissioning and dismantling have not yet started, and the request of the operator Preussen-Elektra has not yet been approved by the Ministry of the Environment as the reactor’s safety authority. “Safety is more important than speed here. As is currently the case, the permit is expected to be issued in 2023, the ministry informed.

Since the plant shut down nearly seven months ago, all 193 fuel elements, each with 236 fuel rods, have been removed from the reactor pressure vessel and placed in the storage basin. There was an accident in mid-July. The fuel rod has fallen. The radiation did not escape, according to the operators. The items are now gradually packed in Castor containers and stored in an on-site temporary warehouse. In autumn, the facility will be chemically cleaned. This so-called system-wide decontamination (decontamination of the entire system) aims to reduce radioactive radiation.

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Ministry of the Environment in Brokdorf: restarting is legally prohibited

“Restarting closed nuclear power plants is now legally prohibited,” said a spokesman for the Ministry of the Environment. However, if the Nuclear Energy Act were to be changed and a decision was made for Brokdorf, extensive testing would first have to be carried out. In addition, radioactive material is consumed. Preussen-Elektra announced in March that it would first have to produce new fuel elements. It would take up to two years.

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Environment Minister Tobias Goldschmidt (The Greens) is not thinking about the renaissance of nuclear energy. According to his company, the other three plants that are currently still connected to the grid no longer have security checks. Due to the decision to end nuclear power, it was abandoned in 2019. It is more than questionable “whether this can be made up for in the shortest possible time. This applies all the more to the restarting of closed nuclear power plants. ‘

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