Expert opinion contradicts Habeck
TÜV: Continued operation of Isar 2 possible without any problems
06/23/2022, 6:25 p.m
The SPD and the Greens reject extending the lifetime of the last nuclear power plants. In a report for the state of Bavaria, TÜV Süd came to the conclusion that the continued operation of the Isar 2 reactor would be possible until mid-2023 without new fuel elements. If you order new fuel elements quickly, even beyond that.
According to experts from the testing company TÜV Süd, continued operation of the Isar 2 nuclear power plant beyond December of this year would be technically feasible without further ado. This emerges from a report by TÜV Süd for the Bavarian state government, excerpts of which are available to ntv.de.
It says that when TÜV Süd was active as an expert, “there were no indications that the necessary damage prevention could be in question”. Since the last security check, “there have been no new findings that would give rise to concerns that the implementation of a new security check would result in safety-related deficits”.
In Germany there are still three nuclear power plants on the grid, in addition to Isar 2, these are the Neckarwestheim 2 and Emsland reactors. All three plants are scheduled to be shut down by the end of the year. Against the background of the faltering gas supplies from Russia, a debate has flared up about extending the service life. The SPD and the Greens reject this, arguing, among other things, that the nuclear power plants that still exist would then have to be subjected to a safety check immediately.
In 2019 there was no regular exam
In the normal ten-year cycle, such a test would have been due in 2019. Since the reactors were to be taken off the grid, it was stipulated by law that these tests were not to be carried out. “If operation continued after January 1st, 2023, the last safety check would be 13 years old, and a new one would be imperative,” write the Federal Ministry of Economics and the Federal Ministry for the Environment in a joint statement opinion from March. “In the event of longer continued operation, the requirements of the current nuclear technical regulations should not be sufficient,” it continues.
It was only on Wednesday that a spokesman for the Ministry of Economics referred to the assessment of Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck that continued operation of the power plants beyond December 31, 2022 was also irresponsible for safety reasons.
“Continued operation possible until August 2023 without new fuel elements”
The experts from TÜV Süd do not accept this argument. For Isar 2, it cannot be deduced from the failure to carry out a review in 2019 that “the necessary damage precautions are no longer given”. Even in the event of a “deliberate crash of a large commercial aircraft” on Isar 2, no release of radioactive substances is to be expected. Apart from “routine repair measures”, no measures are necessary to ensure continued operation.
TÜV Süd estimates that without new fuel elements, continued operation of Isar 2 would be possible until August 2023 – initially with normal continued operation for 80 days, then for a further three months by “relocating” the existing fuel elements. In total, an additional amount of electricity of around 5160 gigawatt hours can be generated.
In addition, the experts write that they believe “based on our experience in the assessment of subsequent fuel element deliveries, a delivery of fresh fuel elements within 12 months is possible”. TÜV Süd concludes that if the order is placed in good time, operations could continue beyond autumn 2023.
After five operating cycles, the interim storage facility would be full
TÜV Süd emphasizes that necessary measures for continued operation could be implemented “accompanying operations”. On the other hand, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Environment had stated in their statement that the three nuclear power plants still in operation could continue to run in “extended operation” for a period of up to 80 days beyond December 31st. However, the nuclear power plants would have to produce less electricity in the summer of 2022. “Overall, no more electricity would be produced between now and the end of March 2023.”
Chancellor Olaf Scholz told the “Münchner Merkur” on Monday that the fuel rods would last until the end of the year. Getting new ones would take at least 12 to 18 months. However, he also said: “I am wholeheartedly in favor of phasing out nuclear energy. Nevertheless: If it were possible without any problems to extend the term by one or two years, hardly anyone would oppose it now.”
With a view to the storage capacities on the site of the nuclear power plant, TÜV Süd writes that “at least five more operating cycles” of Isar 2 are possible “before the capacity of the on-site interim storage facility is exhausted”. The current operating cycle of Isar 2 is given by the operator PreussenElektra as a good 14 months.