A year after Germany’s nuclear phase-out, Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck defended the decision to shut down the last reactors and referred to falling electricity prices. All the horror scenarios painted on the wall did not come to pass, the Green politician told the newspapers of the Funke media group (Monday). “We see today that the electricity supply continues to be secure, electricity prices have fallen even after the nuclear phase-out and CO2 emissions are also falling.”

Of course, the situation was tense after the Russian war of aggression broke out, said Habeck. “We had to implement a lot of measures in a very short time in order to stabilize the energy supply and reduce the enormous one-sided dependencies that Germany had. We succeeded: we got through two winters safely.” In the electricity sector you can see that the reforms are having an effect. “The expansion of renewable energies is really picking up speed, we are simplifying and accelerating approval procedures, prices on the electricity exchanges have fallen sharply. By 40 percent since the nuclear phase-out a year ago.” At the same time, coal-fired power plants were running less frequently than they had in decades.

Germany has sufficient capacity of its own to cover domestic electricity needs, said Habeck. “Nevertheless, we participate in the European internal electricity market.” Two percent of gross electricity consumption last year was covered by imports, but only around a quarter of this was nuclear power from France

Habeck: Repository issue in Germany still unresolved

The German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) had previously complained about continued high electricity prices. DIHK President Peter Adrian also told the newspapers of the Funke media group that German electricity prices on the stock exchange are still twice as high as in 2019. However, prices have fallen over the past year. Together with taxes, network fees and levies, the costs are sometimes four times higher than in other countries, said Adrian.

According to the Federal Association of the Energy and Water Industry, the average electricity price for industry for new contracts at the beginning of 2024 was 17.65 cents per kilowatt hour; in 2019 it was 18.43 cents. At that time, around a third of this was still due to the EEG surcharge, which is no longer due. In the energy crisis following the Russian attack on Ukraine in 2020, the price shot up to 43.20 cents.

When asked whether the nuclear phase-out was irreversible, Habeck said: “On April 15, 2023, we carried out what the black-yellow coalition decided in 2011 and therefore finally shut down the last German nuclear power plants.” It is now clear that the regions in Germany with a lot of renewable energy enjoy real location advantages. “If some people still want to return to nuclear energy, it should be noted that nuclear energy is not internationally competitive and that the costs of current projects are exploding.” In addition, the final storage issue in Germany remains unresolved. “It would therefore be better not to constantly question what the country has once agreed to, but rather to focus on solving current problems.” Reliability is needed, also for investment security.