Germany May Delay a Planned Exit From Nuclear Energy on Russia Gas Cut


  • Germany is considering keeping nuclear plants running beyond end-2022, when they are due to shut.
  • The country has been planning to phase out nuclear energy but is now facing a gas crisis.
  • Major natural-gas supplier Russia has been cutting flows to Germany, pushing it toward a recession.

Germany is thinking about delaying the shutdown of the country’s remaining three nuclear plants as Russia continues to reduce natural-gas supply to Europe’s top economy.

“The economy minister has commissioned an intensified worst-case scenario calculation. Let’s have a look at that,” said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday, Bloomberg reported. Scholz was responding to a question on whether he may reconsider keeping the plants online.

The development is a big deal as Germany has been phasing out nuclear energy since Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011. It’s an extremely contentious issue in Germany, where the anti-nuclear movement dates back to the 1970s.

Just last month, Chancellor Scholz — who is from the Social Democratic Party — rejected a proposal to prolong the operations of the nuclear plants.

But amid the country’s unprecedented energy crisis, even the Green Party — which was born from the anti-nuclear  movement — has softened on its stance to switch off all nuclear reactors this year.

“At every moment in this crisis we need to react according to the current situation and to examine every measure,” Green Party coleader Ricarda Lang told German TV on Sunday, as reported by Guardian.

“We have to prevent a wave of poverty,” Lang added.

Germany is reliant on piped natural gas from Russia, which accounts for 35% of the country’s imports of the fuel. The industrial powerhouse imports almost all of the natural gas it uses, which accounts for about a quarter of the country’s total energy mix, according to the economy ministry.

However, major natural-gas supplier Russia has been cutting supplies to Germany and beyond, citing technical reasons due to sweeping sanctions over the Ukraine war. On Wednesday, Russia slashed natural-gas flows to Germany to just 20% of key pipeline Nord Stream 1’s capacity. The supply squeeze has tripled the prices of European natural-gas futures, in turn pushing up power bills.

Germany industry leaders are also warning of a severe economic hardship should Russian gas be cut completely. Earlier this month, the country’s top union official said entire industries could collapse in such a scenario, wiping out jobs. On Monday, a popular measure of German business confidence slumped to its lowest level since June 2020 amid the threats of a gas shortage and soaring inflation.

“Companies are expecting business to become much more difficult in the coming months. They were also less satisfied with their current situation,” said Clemens Fuest, the president of the Ifo Institute think tank. “Germany is on the cusp of a recession.”


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