Germany’s nuclear power phaseout is good news for Russia

The phaseout coincides with soaring prices for natural gas across Europe, brought on by cold weather, the resumption of economic activity, and lower-than-average imports from Russia, which supplies most of the continent’s gas. In November, German regulators slammed the brakes on the Nord Stream 2, a proposed undersea gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, meaning that Russian exports are unlikely to get a boost soon. Still, the closed nuclear plants mean more demand for Russian gas, at least in the short term, suggesting emissions and prices for electricity in Germany will rise.

That’s what happened last December in France, when four nuclear reactors were temporarily closed for maintenance. Public polling in September suggested that rising energy prices have some Germans reconsidering their opposition to nuclear power.

For now, Germany’s position on nuclear puts it at odds with much of the rest of the world. China is planning a massive buildout of nuclear power to meet its climate agenda. In the US, energy economists are urging officials in California and other states not to close existing plants. Qatar, Canada, the US, South Africa, Kazakhstan, and other countries are also now considering new nuclear plant designs as technological advances address some of the cost, safety, and waste disposal concerns of the past.

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