The Nuclear Debate: FDP and Union – Four Reasons Why You’re Wrong

Extend terms
Dear FDP and Union: Four Reasons Why Discussing Nuclear Energy Actually Doesn’t Make sense

The nuclear power plant in Lingen is one of three reactors still operating in Germany.

© Ina Fassbender / AFP

Everything has already been said about this for a long time, but the FDP and the Federation are once again working to extend the life of nuclear energy. There are at least four good reasons why the debate makes no sense.

The FDP remains stubborn and, despite resistance in the ruling coalition, insists on talking about extending the life of nuclear power plants. Even the Liberal’s energy policy spokesman, Michael Cruz, suggested holding a “nuclear energy summit”. On the same day, the report came from Japan that four former Tepco directors, and the operators of the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, were ordered to pay the equivalent of 94.6 billion euros in damages. Nuclear power is always expensive – in normal operation and especially when accidents occur.

Even nuclear power plant operators don’t want that anymore

At the end of the year, the three furnaces Emsland, Isar 2 and Neckarwestheim 2 still in operation will be removed from the network. That was decided eleven years ago, and even energy companies as owners are no longer interested in “going back to this risky and expensive technology,” as the president of the Federal Energy and Water Management Association, Kirsten Andrea, said. Emsland reactor operator said on request star: ‘RWE considers that the obstacles to a reasonable extended operation are significant.’ In other words: no one in Germany is interested in sticking to nuclear power.

Interestingly, it is the FDP and the Union, who also support nuclear energy, who now accuse the co-ruling Greens of behaving “ideologically” on the issue of extending service life. The actual ideology is to stick to a technology that nothing technical, economic or political is talking about. And depending on which way you look at it, the environment and the climate don’t benefit much, As evidenced by looking at a few numbers and myths (which varies with coverage, sources and distributors).

Can nuclear power plants continue to operate beyond the planned end?

Better not. It is possible to continue operating the factories at a lower level, but that will only help for a short time. One of the problems with this is the lack of staff, which is simply no longer planned. Above all, the fuel rods in the reactors are running out. RWE wrote: “Our Emsland power plant in Lingen is scheduled to be phased out at the end of the year [2022, d. Red.] Accordingly, we have also optimized fuel usage for this date. New fuel elements must be manufactured individually for each plant. And in our experience, it usually takes 12 to 24 months to buy new fuel items.”

Is nuclear energy carbon dioxide neutral?

No. There are different data on carbon dioxide emissions from nuclear power plants. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Climate Panel, they emit between 3.7 and 110 grams of greenhouse gases corresponding to carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour – depending on whether you include the entire life cycle of a power plant in the calculation – that is, by what In that construction and dismantling – or just pure operation – is included, which also includes the production and transportation of uranium. The potential amount is probably in the range of 12-31 grams, and with these values, nuclear energy is in a better position to produce fossil energy, but it is by no means at the level of renewables.

Is nuclear power good enough to replace gas?

At most indirectly. First, nuclear power plants generate electricity, not heat. Therefore, it is not a substitute for lost gas deliveries. However, about twelve percent of natural gas is used to generate electricity. Therefore, the argument is that this gas could be saved if nuclear power plants generated power instead. However, the majority of this gas generation goes to combined heating and power plants and to industrial or decentralized heating and power plants. However, this reduces the possibility of saving gas in thermal power plants.

Is nuclear power cheap?

This is true only as long as the construction and maintenance of power plants is subsidized by the state. The process is only feasible if there are significant tax breaks and subsidies for the complex construction (and dismantling) of a nuclear reactor and its maintenance (such as the disposal of nuclear waste). It is estimated that Germany has supported nuclear power plant operators with about 187 billion euros over the past 40 years. This does not include potential accident costs. Liability insurance will only pay a maximum of €2.5 billion in damages. According to the Ecological and Social Market Economic Forum, a kilowatt-hour of nuclear power actually costs about 42 cents. Comparison: Wind power is about 8 cents.

Even if one generously ignores one or more of these objections, the debate about extending the term remains “completely illogical,” said SPD leader Saskia Eskin. As Chancellor Olaf Schultz sees it, there is “no requirement to be able to devote more to this question”.

Sources: DPA, AFP, BUND, Deutsche Welle, Deutschlandfunk, RWE, Destatis, “Spiegel”

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