Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck’s plans for a nuclear reserve have triggered a heated debate. Harsh criticism came in particular from the coalition partner FDP and the opposition Union. But nuclear experts also describe the plan as unnecessary, reckless and, above all, expensive.
Nuclear power plants would have to be checked for safety, staff and fuel elements would have to be kept available, says energy economist Claudia Kemfert of the “Rheinische Post”. “This is time-consuming and expensive. Effort and income are disproportionate,” says Kemfert.
Nuclear expert Anna Veronika Wendland expects costs of at least 250,000 euros per day. If the power plant was kept on standby with aftercooling operation, they would draw about 240 megawatt hours. If, as is currently the case, a megawatt hour costs 1,000 euros, that amounts to 240,000 euros per power plant and day – other costs, such as for staff, come on top of that,” she says to “Bild”. That is “disproportionate to the effort involved ‘ is her summary.
Economics Veronika Grimm is also of this opinion. You have high costs, but no cheap energy would be produced. Keeping the nuclear power plants “on standby, but not letting them run is actually the worst of all solutions,” she said in the “heute journal”.
The Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection has not yet given an exact figure, but called the costs “manageable”. The details of the implementation would now be worked out, according to a spokeswoman for “Bild”. The costs would be reimbursed to the operators by the state, presumably with taxpayers’ money.
Kemfert goes on to explain that possible supply bottlenecks are not caused by the German grid, but primarily by ailing nuclear power plants in France. “The energy supply in Germany is secured, even without nuclear power,” she assesses. “Nuclear power plants are unsuitable for the grid reserve because they can’t even be switched on and off,” says Kemfert. Tüv boss Joachim Bühler also represents this position. Nuclear power plants cannot perform time-critical functions in the event of supply bottlenecks, he says to the “Bild”.
If a nuclear power plant goes online, “accidental gains” – i.e. high profits resulting from the high electricity prices – should be “skimmed off” as with other power plants. This should then be used to finance the electricity price brake.