Scholz and liberal finance minister clash over nuclear phase-out

While Germany is struggling to unbundle its energy dependence on Russia, Lindner stepped forward and argued that the current spike in energy prices could be tackled by prolonging the running time of Germany’s nuclear power plants. [EPA-EFE/FILIP SINGER]

Chancellor Olaf Sholz (Social Democrat) has nuked a possible proposal to prolong the phase-out of nuclear reactors, initially due to cease by the end of the year, put forward by Finance Minister Christian Linder (FDP).

While Germany is struggling to unbundle its energy dependence on Russia, Lindner stepped forward and argued that the current spike in energy prices could be tackled by prolonging the running time of Germany’s nuclear power plants.

“We have to talk about the question of energy supply in a non-ideological way,” Lindner told ARD on Tuesday evening, adding that “We have safe nuclear power plants.”

However, the statement contradicted the German plans to phase out nuclear by the end of 2022. On Wednesday, German chancellor Scholz emphasised that the government would stick to these plans and refuted the finance minister’s augments.

Scholz emphasised that the whole government would stand behind the agreement to phase out nuclear energy. While he understands Lindner’s “unidological approach“ he stated that the government would still stick to its approach to “phase out nuclear energy.”

Further investments in nuclear energy would make no sense, as the building of a new nuclear reactor would cost up to €18 billion and a new power plant would only be operational by 2037 or 2038 – a time frame where the government already expects to be completely independent of Russian gas imports.

However, the German population is increasingly in favour of prolonging the runtime of nuclear power plants. According to a recent survey by INSA, 50% of Germans said they would welcome a prolongation of nuclear power plants amidst an energy crisis triggered by the Ukraine war.

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