Germany to Keep Three Nuclear Plants Going Past Old Shut-Down Date to Alleviate Energy Crunch

The Wall Street Journal broke the story that Germany intends to postpone the closure of three nuclear plants past the scheduled date of December 31. The story suggests the plants will be kept going only for a few additional months, as in to tide Germany through the worst of the winter. But the lack of specifics may also reflect that the change is subject to legislative approval and the government doesn’t want to negotiate against itself.

From the Journal in Germany to Keep Last Three Nuclear-Power Plants Running in Policy U-Turn:

Germany plans to postpone the closure of the country’s last three nuclear power plants as it braces for a possible shortage of energy this winter after Russia throttled gas supplies to the country, said German government officials.

While temporary, the move would mark the first departure from a policy initiated in the early 2000s to phase out nuclear energy in Germany and which had over time become enshrined in political consensus.

The decision has yet to be formally adopted by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s cabinet and would likely require a vote in Parliament. Some details are still under discussion, three senior government officials said. A cabinet decision would also need to wait on the outcome of an assessment of Germany’s energy needs that will be concluded in the coming weeks but which the officials said was a foregone conclusion.

Still, while a formal decision could be weeks off, the government believes two key conditions allowing a temporary extension of the life of the three remaining plants, now expected to close on Dec. 31, have been met: Germany is facing a likely shortage of gas and letting the reactors operate longer poses no safety concern, the officials said…

A spokeswoman for the Economy Ministry, which oversees energy, denied that the government had made a decision on extending the life of the plants, adding that it would depend on the findings of the continuing assessment of Germany’s power needs.

Although I know just about nothing about the workings of the German government, the article suggests leak came from the Chancellor’s office and/or its allies. There have been more than a few occasional where Vice Chancellor and head of the Economy Ministry Robert Habeck has publicly disagreed with and beaten back proposals by Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Has the heretofore-seen-as-hapless Scholz finally become emboldened by the economic disaster bearing down on the German economy and Habeck’s handwave-level responses? For instance:

Mind you, it’s not as if gas prices can’t and won’t get worse. Cheery news from Gazprom via RT:

Russian state energy giant Gazprom on Tuesday warned that gas prices in Europe could surge by 60% this winter.

“European spot gas prices have reached $2,500. According to conservative estimates, if such a tendency persists, prices will exceed $4,000 per thousand cubic meters this winter,” the company posted to its official Telegram channel.

Keep in mind that this preservation of nuclear capacity falls more in the category of preventing things from getting worse than providing meaningful relief. These three plants together provide 6% of Germany’s electricity. It would otherwise have had to have been replaced with gas or coal.

This deal is not necessarily a slam dunk. Again from the Journal:

The nuclear extension is fraught with technical, legal and political hurdles. Laws may need to be amended to allow for the reactors to remain online and obtain fresh fuel rods. Complex certification as well as insurance and nuclear-waste disposal procedures could be required.

It is also politically sensitive. The nuclear phaseout was initiated by the Social Democrats and Greens, the leading parties in the current coalition, and has become part of the parties’ identities, particularly for the Greens, a party that was born out of the antinuclear movement.

Leading Green politicians have already accepted a short extension of the nuclear-power generation. Ludwig Hartmann, the Greens’ parliamentary floor leader in the state of Bavaria, said that the life of reactors could be prolonged for a “few months” if the region faced the risk of power shortages…

Some environmental groups have already announced that they would take legal action against a decision to postpone the plant closure.

However, a recent poll found that 3/4 of German voters favored keeping the three nuclear plants going to alleviate the already-in-progress energy crunch.

Why Germany can’t get over itself and ask Russia to open up NordStream 2 and end the gas crisis is beyond me. They continue to try to convince themselves that their Russian energy diet is hurting Russia more than them.

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  1. Altandmain

    As the article hints at the end, the smart thing to do is for Germany to swallow their pride and go back to the bargaining table with Russia. If this isn’t obvious, Germany needs Russia more than Russia needs Germany. There aren’t a lot of natural resources in Germany and as the desperate attempts to get energy from nations like Qatar shows, no easy substitutes.

    One other consideration is that nuclear power will likely need to have a renaissance in Germany. The Green’s don’t have a choice – the only other option is to massively increase the amount of coal that is being produced.

    In the long run, if this situation does not reverse, Germany stands to lose a significant amount of its manufacturing industry.

    There are quite a few reasons why the Germans were able to keep their industrial power.

    -They had an industrial policy and never really embraced the neoliberal way of outsourcing to low wage nations to destroy labour
    – They kept their rent seeking financial sector relatively small
    – China and East Asia is a major customer for their industrial products
    – Some of their industries do lead the world in quality
    – There is a extensive apprenticeship program in Germany
    – The Euro kept their currency weaker than if the Deutsche Mark were still around

    Those are the well known causes.

    A big one not discussed is how important cheap energy is to industry. Areas such as chemicals and metal working are extremely sensitive to the price of energy.

    It could have secondary effects. To give an example, rising chemical prices may mean rising food prices and automobile manufacturing costs.

    China in particular has made rapid relative gains in terms of technology and product quality compared to Germany. The end result could be a loss of manufacturing jobs from Germany to China and other nations with affordable energy.

    Whether it affects finished goods further down the supply chain is difficult to predict. If it does, I could see Germany facing problems comparable to the ones the US in the Midwest faced after NAFTA was signed and China added to the WTO.

    If my worst case prediction is accurate, it will be a disaster for Germany. This will end up with Germany as a much economically weaker nation, millions unemployed, and serious loss of political stability.

    1. Ignacio

      Making predictions is difficult but, yes, Germany is facing a crisis that might turn really nasty and it seems the government is dealing it with too much stubbornness. As PK explains below keeping the nuclear plants might only help a few households able to change from NG to inefficient electric heating systems but it won’t save the industry. We can expect all kind of more or less crazy ideas. Why not, for instance turning part of the manufacturing industry into a nocturnal activity so that the nuclear energy might find better use?

      1. Altandmain

        Manufacturing often requires at least 2 shifts (so 16 hours) to pay for the capital expenditures. That’s true in the fields I’ve been employed (automotive and consumer packaged goods, where I closely worked with capital projects /engineering to study economic feasibility). In that regard, a single night only shift would be difficult to sustain and even tougher if Germany finds itself confronting more competitive products from China as the Chinese manufacturers improve.

        In regards to the electric costs, both natural gas and electric costs are up. Increasing the supply of electricity in the German grid can only help.

        Yet another issue is that even if the Germans have a new supplier of natural gas, they will likely have to pay more and still need to compete.

        1. chris

          Adding to your points and responding to Ignacio, there are several reasons why you’ll never run a plant on night shift alone. The biggest is maintenance, which is typically done on manufacturing lines at night when the demand can be reduced or you can take one system offline, fix it, and still be ready for production during the day. Another big reason is staffing. Managers and your senior engineers/techs don’t like working at night. They may do it as needed and on occasion for an increased hourly rate (night shift adjustment) but they won’t do it for long before leaving or retiring. And lastly, switching a plant to nightshift only implies you can shift a plant’s inputs and ancillary support to nightshift too. It’s one thing to say you’ll work with the local diner to make sure it’s open at 5 AM for “dinner”. It’s another thing entirely to coordinate with all your suppliers so that they make deliveries to support nightshift activities.

    2. Polar Socialist

      The ghost of Lord Ismay: Russians out…check. Americans in..check. Germans down…finally!

      That said, I find it hard to believe current crop of leaders and their neutered civil services would have been able to keep following a plan for decades. It’s more about Russophobia in European geopolitical context being a self-fulfilling prophecy – time after time.

      1. Futility

        The current crop of leaders don’t understand ( unlike Merkel for all her faults) that Germany is crucially dependent on cheap energy. Why the Greens, especially, don’t seize this opportunity and push hard for alternative energies ( win -win, dependence on Russia decreases with time while CO2 emissions go down to reach the already agreed upon climate targets) is beyond me. Instead they favor dirty fracked LNG and burning more coal. Even letting those 3 nuclear power plants run is a major obstacle for them. The greens are absolutely useless. Just open NS2.

    3. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      With regard to a structural shift in fortunes, I worked for Germany’s biggest and baddest bank from 2016 – 21 and often wonder. So does the German business establishment, but it’s running scared.

      Germany is not just worried about the competition from China, but Italy in some sectors, too, but that risk is manageable within the Eurozone and with Italy’s comprador class in situ.

      1. Altandmain

        That’s very interesting.

        Keep in mind that in the case of Italy, they also import a lot of natural gas from Russia.

        The Italians seem to be trying to get more gas from other nations as well.

        One of the most important questions is the cost. How much would this has be versus what the Italians were paying from the Russians.

        Yet another issue is the amount of gas the Italians will be able to get from elsewhere in the world. There does seem to be a shortage of natural gas throughout the world.

        The shortages are already leading to tensions between the European countries.

        Most likely, these tensions are going to worsen if the European nations are unable to secure an adequate amount of alternatively sourced gas.

        Last I heard, like Germany, Italy is preparing for a very cold winter.

    4. Futility

      This prediction sounds very accurate to me, but here in Germany nobody wants to hear this because it means giving in to the evil Putin. We’ll rather destroy ourselves. At least this seems to be the prevalent opinion as (admittingly anecdotally) revealed on German discussion forums of major newspapers ( like, say, Der Spiegel). The willingness to swallow obvious propaganda with regards to Russia and now China is mind boggling. Just mention, that Trump actually started with the high-level visits to China, which Pelosi and Biden only continued and escalated, will earn oneself ad hominem attacks and self-righteous declarations that the West is just standing up for freedom. It is China that is aggressive. The ministry of Truth is the modern internet with quasi-monopolies of “news” dissemination.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    Just one point on this – the majority of natural gas used in Germany is not used for electricity generation. Its mostly directly used by industry or households. Around 12% of German electricity is from natural gas generators (the same as currently contributed by nuclear). Over 50% comes from renewables, around 25% from coal. Nuclear power is a relatively small contribution and due to the regional basis for the German grid, it’s not necessarily useful for all parts of Germany. The main benefit in increasing non-natural gas sources for electricity will be allowing some consumers to use electric heaters in winter rather than their (far more efficient) gas heaters. It will be of minimal help for industrial gas uses.

    There are of course multiple complexities in this, not least because Germany imports quite a lot of electricity from neighbours – Danish wind, French nuclear, Polish dirty coal, etc. They are all to some degree interconnected – in the big picture, a few nuke stations in German don’t make a huge difference, hence the apparently slow decision making on this.

    The big decision the German government will have to face is who gets cut off first in the winter – industry or households. In western China due to drought the government is currently facing a similar decision over electricity, and they’ve decided that households get first dibs (the same happened last year in northern China). Most industrial users will have disruptions built into their supply contracts anyway (i.e. a limited number of down days). So there is some scope for flexibility, but a lot depends on other factors – how windy the winter is, whether reservoirs get replenished after the summer drought, etc.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The article made a different claim, which we summarized: this change would not be to increase non natural gas sources, but prevent the loss of nuclear-generated electricity from making more demands on scarce and very costly gas supplies. As the story elaborated:

      Extending the life of the three plants beyond their current closing date is no panacea for Germany’s looming energy bottleneck this winter. The country is mainly missing natural gas, which is used primarily for heating and manufacturing.

      Yet by allowing the plants, which together account for around 6% of the country’s electricity production, to stay online, Berlin would remove the need to replace them with gas- or coal-powered plants, allowing gas to be used in areas where it can’t be replaced by other fuels.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The problem with this argument is that natural gas in Germany is almost all used for peaking demand and load balancing. Nuclear displaces baseline demand (taking pressure off coal plants mostly), but there simply isn’t enough capacity even if all the old coal and nuclear plants were re-opened to deal with a seasonal and daily peak when wind and hydro contribution is low. This is much better addressed through demand controls – i.e. persuading consumers to reduce usage at times when the ccgt plants need to come online.

        I’m not denying the impact would be beneficial on gas supplies, just far less than the raw percentage figures suggest. Ultimately, the only way the Germans will get through the winter intact is through intensive demand management and to pray they have a wet and windy rather than cold and dry season. Playing around with old power stations is just a very expensive distraction at the margins.

        1. upstater

          With “smart” appliances, thermostats and HVAC, soon there will be no need of “persuading consumers”. Centrally controlled cuts of high demand residential HVAC already exists in many US utility service territories with “smart metering”.

          1. Louis Fyne

            yes, if things get bad enough in America (probably not), someone far away at utility HQ has the theoretical ability to granuarly target blackouts—-leaving your house in the dark while the nursing home that is 1/2 mile away keeps their power.

            in the worst case scenario, not the best idea to have months worth of food in a freezer without an backup power plan.

        2. JW

          Cold and dry is the long term weather forecast for much of northern Europe this winter. If the French nukes can’t be brought back on line ( unlikely) its going to be a cold dark winter not just for Germany.

        3. Dave in Austin

          Yesterday we had a report that three German companies had guaranteed to supply natural gas there and that the three new, temporary LNG loading terminals would be operating by late winter. This is pure fantasy. The three companies don’t have a secure supply, they are middlemen. And the terminals will not solve the short-term problem created by the lack of distribution pipelines or the shortage of LNG tankers to bring the gas from the US.

          Meanwhile the Guardian at reports that St Pertesburg and Moscow are among the top five cities in the world for CO2 polution caused by old cars in traffic jams. The Russians have few new cars but petrol to burn.

          It looks as if the Russians are playing “the winter game”; supply gas through the Ukrainian pipelines to Germany et al but not enough to supply all the usual users. Will Ukraine take some of the Russian gas headed for Germany and Hungary? Who will pay for it? Will Spain share African gas with France? Will the Baltic states and especially Poland get backhauled gas from Germany? This is “The Hunger Games”.

          And industry stands to lose. Consumers vote, demonstrate and revolt; industry negotiates for subsidies. Ukraine is already preparing the public for cold times and my previous guess that the Russians would simply shut down the Ukrainian cities’ district heating system with missiles is likely to be incorrect. They will just supply let the Ukrainian government decide who gets the limited supply of gas and coal and take the blame.

          As for the German nucs, not one real power center in Germany was calling for them to be shut down this winter. They simply provide one of the few hopes that the base-load demand can be supported and blackouts can be kept temporary and local. I think people in the US fail to realize that all babyboom Western and Central Europeans grew up on parental stories of “the Hunger Winters”, burning books and furniture for heat; living in basements to stay warm; weeks of never changing your clothing.

          1. upstater

            Lithuania has an LNG terminal. Given their Washington-approved blockade of Kaliningrad, I would imagine they will have a supply. Even with LNG, the Baltics face a long, cold winter.

          2. vao

            It would be interesting to see those reports. What I found is the following:

            1) Germany is setting up four delivery points for floating storage and regasification units (FSRU).

            2) A FSRU is a specialized ship that has the necessary equipment to take as input LNG, and to output normal gas. Germany is leasing (at high price) 4 such vessels from two shipping companies. Apparently, there are just about 50 such ships worldwide.

            3) The sites for FSRU are in Lubmin (to be up in 2024), in Stade (end 2023), in Wilhelmshaven and in Brunsbüttel. It is expected that the basic infrastructure will be ready to receive FSRU in the latter two sites end of 2022 and early 2023 respectively.

            4) Everything has been carried out in accelerated mode. In Wilhelmshaven, work started in May — even before construction permits were delivered. It essentially involves building a 370m long pier based on 50m long steel rods. Originally, everything was supposed to be completed within 10 months — i.e. in March 2023.

            5) An issue is building pipelines connecting the dock to the German gas network. For Wilhelmshaven this means a 28km pipeline to Etzel, where there is a large gas storage facility. The government waved the rules so that there is no environmental impact for the pipeline (yes, the Greens consented to that), but the firm in charge declared that end 2022 is an “ambitious deadline”. Even then, 14 objections have been formally raised against the pipeline.

            6) In Brunsbüttel a 3km pipeline is needed to connect the FSRU pier to the existing gas network of SH Netz AG. However, a 54km pipeline to Hetlingen is also being planned — which will basically require a 21-35m large corridor through protected moorland that will have to be drained. The local parliament authorized a revision of the law on wasser (Landeswassergesetz) to expedite the process (yes, the Greens consented to that). Again, nature protection associations are up in arms. But that second pipeline will only become relevant when other LNG infrastructure will be in place, somewhere in 2026.

            7) A private energy firm is also planning to dock its own FSRU in Lubmin — leasing a vessel from French TotalEnergie. Lubmin will require extensive dredging to enable FSRU vessels to dock, which complicates planning. The capacity is 4.5Bm3 gas.

            8) In Stade, the FSRU will dock on land. The total capacity is to reach 13.3Bm3 gas. Interestingly, the firm in charge of the terminal (Hanseatic Energy Hub) has been officially freed from regulation by the Bundesnetzagentur for the next…25 years.

            9) The Wilhelmshaven infrastructure will allow 7.5Bm3 gas to be delivered per year — which represent 8.5% of the total German gas needs. With the station in Brunsbüttel, all in all 10-14Bm3 gas can in principle be delivered — i.e. 11%-16% of the total gas needs of Germany. This is significant, but very far from a rapid solution to substitute the Russian gas (depending on year and source, at least a third of total German gas needs). Only when the terminals in Stade and Lubmin come on line, i.e. in 2024 if everything goes well, may Germany realistically start replacing Russian gas entirely with LNG from elsewhere — if the necessary supplies can be found.

            In other news, the Finnish nuclear power plant in Olkiluoto, which should have come on line in September, will only start producing electricity in December. Problems discovered in May during operational tests have postponed — again — the commissioning of that facility.

            Winter in Europe will be “interesting”.

            1. vao

              Argh, I wrote “so that there is no environmental impact for the pipeline” meaning of course “so that there is no environmental impact study for the pipeline”.

              By the way, those LNG terminals and associated pipelines fall within the scope of projects with “shortened approval procedures”: from the day the project documentation is officially published, people have 2 weeks to pore over of them, analyse their impact and raise formal objections. Local associations, especially nature protection groups, are furious. For instance, the dossier for the terminal in Brunsbüttel comprises 700 files; the table of contents alone is 12 pages long.

              The law enabling such “shortened procedures” for LNG infrastructure (LNG-Beschleunigungsgesetz) was voted by the German parliament in June — and yes, the Greens consented to it.

          3. Yves Smith Post author

            There is no gas going through Ukraine now except a little through one trunk of Yamal Europe. NordStream 1 and 2 do not go through Ukraine. That’s Yamal-Europe, which has 2 main trunks, one of which goes through West Ukraine. Flow on the other trunk has been cut off because Poland won’t pay in rouble. There is a second pipeline that goes through Lugansk that Ukraine cut off so Russia is not supplying gas through it.

        4. JTMcPhee

          All this dancing around with Brussels PMC-created “plans” to determine worthiness to receive residual energy, when the simple basic solution is to tell Blinken and Nuland to f_-k off and try to get the Russians to contract (with acceptable guarantees, given the whole NATO ‘not agreement capability’) for Russian gas and oil. Since it’s pretty apparent that the Russian Federation is a lot more durable than the neoliberal rentier structure, so the looters are not going to be able to pull off another Syria or post-Soviet-collapse racket and just steal the gas, oil and other resources.

          Other NATO nations are already poking big leaking holes in the Sanctions Bag, to cover their own national interest needs. But the policy-deciders, of course, are immune to the consequences, and are old enough that the point where the sh-t really, really hits the fan will likely not come until they are stone-cold dead…

          End the self-imposed, clearly failed and idiotic, suicidal “sanction boycott” and Mutti can shed her sweaters this winter.

          1. Robert

            I’m hoping that the European working classes rise up and take back the power from amerikan toady Quisling woke flakes in power. You truly deserve to freeze in the dark if you won’t fight. China is less than ten years away from doing everything better and cheaper than Europe. More K of high speed rail than the rest of the world including mag lev technology the Germans couldn’t make work. UHV, power transmission, the only countries in the world are China and Brazil and the Brazil system is Chinese. Like Canada, Europe was ready to sign a free trade agreement with China; the empire put an end to that. The empire slapped a 262% tarrif on the Canadian bombardier jet and Airbus got it for a song; the best of it’s type in the world, almost a thousand orders. With friends like Amerika, you don’t need enemies. With toady sock puppet government’s in the west and sheeple for the electorate I see nothing good happening as the rentier extractive oligarchy classes rape their own people and the rest of the world for the last drop of blood.

    2. Marlin

      Just one point on this – the majority of natural gas used in Germany is not used for electricity generation. Its mostly directly used by industry or households.

      1. shutting down existing nuclear power plants will increase the use of gas for electricity production.

      2. households use gas mostly for heating, which is up to 2022 has been cheaper using gas than using heaters, that directly convert electric energy to heat. This is very easy to do, and would be now much cheaper. RWE is selling electricity from nuclear reactors on the whole sale market in Germany for 3.5 cents. EDF is required by law to sell a large amount of electricity for 4 cents. Up to 2022 nat gas was rarely above 3 cents, and in 2020 the price was well below 2 cents. Right now DEC 2022 gas contracts trade 237 cents.
      This increase by about 1400% changes the calculation.

      Around 12% of German electricity is from natural gas generators (the same as currently contributed by nuclear).

      Your numbers are outdated. In the last several years, the trend was to increase the share of electricity production by gas. The German statistics office provides these numbers:;jsessionid=45BA8702DB8F0E1327A8429E1FECC8B6.live721
      The share of gas in electricity production was every year at least 15%. The latest numbers are for 2021. Already half of the then available nuclear energy was shut down this year. So in 2022, the nuclear contribution will be only about 6% and the gas component will be higher than the 15%. So the gas contribution is actually more like 2.5 times the nuclear contribution.

      Over 50% comes from renewables, around 25% from coal. Nuclear power is a relatively small contribution and due to the regional basis for the German grid, it’s not necessarily useful for all parts of Germany.

      This was true for no year ever. The 44% peak (see link above) in 2020 was the result of reduced electricity consumption by industry and a relatively fixed supply by renewables. The 40% of 2019 are more, what you expect – the lower number in 2021 was due to hopefully not too regular reduced availability of wind.
      The nuclear power stations are placed, where there is large regional electricity demand. There is no plausibility to the idea, that it would be difficult to get the electricity of the 40 year old power plants to the consumers of the electricity, that used that electricity for the last 40 years. Indeed the connectivity at the Emsland plant is so good, that people are think about what to do at that place, once the plant is shut down and plan to use it to make hydrogen of wind energy, once there is more wind power created in the north sea. At the Emsland plant, there is actually a gas fired power plant next to the nuclear one. It is useful for all parts of Germany, when the gas can be used, where only gas plants are available instead of using the gas, where other possibilities exist. Gas is very easily transportable, so you transport the gas, not the electricity.

      The main benefit in increasing non-natural gas sources for electricity will be allowing some consumers to use electric heaters in winter rather than their (far more efficient) gas heaters. It will be of minimal help for industrial gas uses.

      Actually the main benefit will be the avoidance of using more gas for electricity production than otherwise. If the industrial users need gas, they can use gas. Only a minor part of the gas use needs to be avoided, and it is the most easy to avoid its use in electricity production. Again, it would be of great use for industrial users, if the flexible gas isn’t used elsewhere, where it isn’t needed.

      There are of course multiple complexities in this, not least because Germany imports quite a lot of electricity from neighbours – Danish wind, French nuclear, Polish dirty coal, etc. They are all to some degree interconnected – in the big picture, a few nuke stations in German don’t make a huge difference, hence the apparently slow decision making on this.

      Germany is a net exporter of electricity. The main reason Germany imports electricity is the intermittency of renewables. Neighbouring countries, maybe apart from Denmark are used to balance the supply variations in Germany – demand variations are completely overcompensated by gas and weekdays running coal power plants.
      Yes, it would make a huge difference, because 5% more or less electricity saving is a huge difference on relatively short notice. Saving 5% extra in 10 years would be quite different, but 5 months is too short a time to increase investment into electricity saving enough to coordinate things well.

  3. LawnDart

    Indoor propane or kerosene heaters are useful. One with access to electricity will be able to utilize electric space-heaters, floor mats, blankets or matress pads, even electric fleece, mittens or footware. Cold living-space can be miserable, but millions in USA have been doing it for years. About those lost jobs though… …at least the Germans have a decent social welfare system, so there’s that. Their industries are gonna have a hellofatime trying to regain lost-market shares, so maybe Germans should just learn to code…

    1. chris

      Indoor kerosene heaters are a great way to ruin residences with soot or kill people with carbon monoxide. That’s if they don’t cause a fire. You need to keep the wick in proper condition while the heater is operating. You also need to monitor the heater to make sure it’s working properly. Most heater manufacturers will specifically tell you not to leave it unattended while in operation. That makes it a poor choice to use overnight. And all that assumes you have kerosene to keep it running, which is another product that’s in short supply these days.

  4. Mike

    I had this unfortunate aha moment the other day thinking about how to translate the lessons of current EU situation to where I live in the Denver Metro. The local utility Xcel energy is under state mandates for 100% clean energy by 2050. Now as that time nears and we haven’t prepared properly which i will assume is more likely than not, it will be one thing to shut down our current coal and gas plants but a whole other thing to then tear down those plants. I say keep them standing just in case.

    I think the end game for a lot of places with coal still in the ground (the US) is we revert back to coal…at least the current ones here are EPA compliant, having survived the Sierra club/Obama onslaught of the 2010s. Who knows what shoddy crap we’d build in 2050 and if it would be compliant with any measures.

    I sent a futile letter to the governor saying if we are serious about clean energy we must build all the infrastructure starting NOW. There is research out of Finland from their geologic study (particularly Simon michaux) detailing from a mineral resource perspective, there is not be enough to produce the solar panels we need or fuel any major increase in current gen III nuclear plants long term. So those 1st in line today have the best chance to survive whatever the heck lies ahead.

    1. Solarjay

      Hi mike.
      While there was and is s lot of talk about forced closing of coal plants by and large the vast majority have been shut down for economic reasons.
      The fracking boom hit right around when Obama took offfice. He relaxed a lot of drilling regulations which did speed up drilling.

      NG is just so much cheaper there is no way to compete with coal. Or was so much cheaper

    2. JW

      Don’t do what the UK has done, knock them down. Do what most of continental Europe has done, mothball.
      Those coal stations are going to be required.

  5. Robert Hahl

    It seems as if Washington has decided to implement Franklin Roosevelt’s idea to deindustrialized Germany. But how does it have the power to do that so easily? My guess is that Washington has backdoor control over the euro, how it can be used and whether it even exists, which is probably why the whole thing was set up in the first place.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Right? Some kind of U.S. derivative pointed at their heads? Something is just not right. I mean, if Germany is so fearful of Russia why would they have nord 1 to begin with and plan on nord 2, plus do all the other business with them they have up until this year? It’s the U.S. Germany fears most, imo. But why?

  6. Lex

    Europe really needs to throw of the shackles of its colonial masters. Perhaps the German government should take a careful look at how many sanctions the US has implemented. AFAIK, the US is still happily importing Russian diesel fuel.

    1. marcel

      General de Gaulle famously said that Europe was an American project. So if the German government wanted to get rid of those shackles, it should get rid of Europe.

    2. JW

      The US is desperate to stop German/Russian links.
      The Ukraine business and the NS2 pipeline sanctions just play into that.
      Will Germany really do nothing as its mercantile economy falls because Washington calls the shots?

    3. jan van mourik

      But everybody in the EU seems convinced that the only thing standing between Europe and The Russian Hordes is Ukraine and the USA. If Ukraine falls, Putler moves on to Europe! So he has to be stopped now!

  7. Solarjay

    My question is what is going to happen here if we keep exporting massive amounts of LNG driving up the price of NG here at home, which has happened to some degree.

    Drilling is down quite a bit and it takes a while to get new wells on line.

    Heating, electrical production snd industry will see large price increases that will be passed on to people here in US. I wonder how that will go?

    1. Louis Fyne

      Demand destruction in the US due to high prices, whether it’s thermostats at 65 or aluminum or ammonia plants shutting down.

      Drilling isn’t going to help. Example, new natural gas pipelines to New England have been blocked for decades. Infinite drilling in Pennsylvania isn’t going to help New England home owners given natural gas has to be shipped by sea to New England.

      The bottom 50% and many in the top 2nd quartile couldn’t manage an extra $500 annual expense pre-covid. Even less so now given -5% real wages since Biden was inaugurated

      the next 25 months are going to be wild for the economy and politics. buckle up

      1. Altandmain

        At some point, the rate of the price increases will be so overwhelming that any opposition to new pipelines is going to be overcome.

        1. chris

          You would think that, but no. The people who will suffer most are those poor who are not considered important to anyone in charge. The elderly, those on fixed incomes, people who rely on inefficient or older style systems (like oil heat) – in other words, everyone who is considered a problem by our elite ruling class. A lot of new England and the mid Atlantic still uses oil fueled burners for their winter heating. A lot of industry uses waste oil heaters to keep places like garages warm during the winter too.

          The people in charge and environmentalists will block pipelines until an army of Pinkertons comes to force them to accept the pipeline. They will do this without giving locals any other options. They will pretend solar and wind can save the day. They will ignore the reality of the situation and the time scale needed to implement any of their optimistic proposals.

          The pipeline companies do themselves no favors in this situation by being difficult to work with and awful to accommodate. They’ll regularly misrepresent risks and costs so that the bonds they carry for accident coverage and the permits they receive for the state cover as little as 1/3 the potential risk. They also mainly use out for state labor during construction so locals don’t have a lot of motivation to support them. The risk of them poisoning water supplies gives more weight to the arguments of the environmentalists.

          We really do need to rearrange and repair and update our entire energy infrastructure in the US. That includes pipelines. I know this will not happen in my lifetime.

  8. David

    After WW2, the victorious nations were faced with a dilemma: Germany’s industrial and commercial power was essential to the rebuilding of Europe, and subsequently its military power was needed to have credible conventional forces in NATO. But most other European nations were distinctly nervous about a Germany that was too powerful. The solution, though never conceived as a whole, was a set of supranational economic structures leading to the EEC, and German forces incapable of operating on their own because they had no national HQ and were completely integrated into NATO. Effectively the Germans were constrained within two supranational structures, one dominated by the US, and the other by France. For their part, the Germans were happy to go along with these arrangements, because it was their ticket back to respectability and a role on Europe and the World.

    This system actually worked OK until the end of the Cold War. But the French made a catastrophic error during the Maastricht negotiations, in allowing the Germans to run off with the Economic Union talks, while pursuing Mitterrand’s agenda of a politically and militarily sovereign Europe in the Political Union talks. By about 2000-2005, after unification and EU enlargement, people began to realise that this was a mistake, because it had allowed the German bankers and neoliberals to dictate the future shape of Europe. And the EU and NATO were always being held hostage to German domestic politics (the NATO deployment to Afghanistan in 2002 was only agreed after German MPs were called back from there holidays, and depended on the votes of the Opposition).

    The problem for the German political system has been moving from the artificial timorousness of the Cold War era to something more measured and sensible, while avoiding the arrogance of the past. But the past won’t just go away (remember Brandt’s Ostpolitik.) A lot of us, who never valued Merkel that highly, believe that the Germans didn’t, and still haven’t got it together, and we’re seeing some of these unresolved strains now.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, David.

      One still wonders how France made that error, especially after the painful years of the franc fort and Jacques Attali startling his German counterparts with his comparison of the Deutschmark to France’s (nuclear) force de frappe.

      At the last round of EU jobs for the boys and girls horse trading, France felt it more important to influence the Commission than the ECB, but still failed. It got von der Leyen and Lagarde.

    2. Polar Socialist

      Germany has been an economically functional state basically 43 years between 1871-1914 and then again 32 years from 1990. That’s rather a short time for a country to come to terms with itself and it’s capabilities. So some slack may be in order.

      Maybe we all should accept that European security can only be achieved when both Russia and Germany are included in it. UK should maybe listened to, but regarding her long history of meddling in continental affairs perhaps kept at safe distance.

  9. The Rev Kev

    There are all sorts of problems keeping those reactors going such as having to change the legislation to enable them to keep on going. Another is the fuel which is sourced from Russia and which they are not getting anymore. I read that they are going to run those reactors in a reduced mode to make that fuel last longer. But I think that the long and the short of it is that this is just a move to kick the can down the road. Scholz seems to be doing this in the hope that there will be only a mild winter and keeping those reactors going will last until the weather starts warming up in the spring next year. Then maybe something will happen to save the situation for him. Yeah, that is a real long shot that but at this point – short of opening up Nord Stream 2 – what else can he do? Call it a Hail Mary. Scholz and co are really going to run Germany into a helluva mess in the coming months.

    1. The Historian

      Never fear about the availability of nuclear fuel! I’m sure Areva or Westinghouse will step up to sell them the fuel – at an inflated price, of course! But sadly, three reactors aren’t going to do much to solve their problems. I’m betting that Germans will be seriously reevaluating their support for Scholz and the Ukranian war before this winter is over.

      1. chris

        No… everything nuclear operates on a schedule. If you step out of the scheduled system for receiving outage support, fuel, etc. It can be very difficult to get back in without paying another entity for their spot in line. A good source for them might be BNFL. But I don’t know if Brexithas scrambled all those agreements. Transporting nuclear fuels across state lines usually requires some kind of treaty.

  10. Margaret

    Same thing happening in California. The Diablo Canyon reactors, sitting atop a complex of earthquake faults, with their seismic reinforcements built backwards,

    were scheduled to close. Then pre-governor Newsom, in a Willy Brown sinecure, The State Lands Commission, voted to extend their life until 2025, and now even further into the future.

    PG&E is Newsom’s biggest donor. His wife got hundreds of thousands for her “non profit” from PG&E.

  11. Felix_47

    I live in Bavaria and most everybody who is educated and skilled I know is trying to get out. The unskilled with limited language skills are better off than they were in West Asia and Africa and they get substantial support. The flow is unending and a consequence of US neocon management. The US wages war and Germany takes the unskilled poor refugees. Our local Bosch plant, our major employer, is essentially shut down. Our Mittelstand companies with any worthwhile technique are being gobbled up by China The Greens are controlled by the US and are simply yes men for the Democrats. Baerbock comes to mind. The German economy is dissolving but we will be poor, and above all anti Trump and Putin and super woke. We are a dumping ground for the consequences of an out of control US military industrial complex. Many feel this is the final realization of the Morgenthau plan to destroy German industry after WW2.

    1. vao

      In the last couple of decades, Austria and Switzerland have been swamped with Germans desperate for at least a career path which is no longer possible in their country because of “schwarze Null” (i.e. no investment by the public hand, ergo no projects and “marodes Deutschland”), “Lohnstopp” (i.e. wage stagnation), and the massive recourse to “Gastarbeiter” (i.e. competition by immigrants from the whole EU) and “Delokalisierung” (i.e. Slovakia, Poland, China and Vietnam get the new production sites while the German ones are kept up but not developed further).

      Contrarily to what is often thought in foreign countries, the Schröder, but especially the Merkel years exhibited a level of standstill and lack of foresight increasingly reminiscent of the GDR under Honecker.

    2. Tom Pfotzer

      A very similar thing happened here in the U.S., Felix.

      Our industry was taken over / bought out by Wall Street, who packed up our factories and shipped them to China. They made profits sending the goods back to the U.S. (Chinese labor was very cheap) and they expected to be able to control China the way they got control of Germany.

      So our middle class is being impoverished, and if, during the China trade war, any of our factories come back to the U.S., they will be highly automated, and need little labor.

      Here at NC we often wonder if/when labor will see the writing on the wall and realize that their future is bleak if we continue to depend upon Wall Street and our Oligarchs to take care of us.

      So your country’s situation is a lot like ours. We are controlled by people that seem to despise us, and we have not yet figured out what to do about that problem.

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