Government adviser calls on Germany to keep nuclear plants running
By Rene Wagner
BERLIN, March 30 (Reuters) - One of German government's economic advisers, Volker Wieland, said on Wednesday he was in favour of longer operating times for the country's nuclear power plants in light of the looming energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.
"We have to change course and use all levers to become less dependent on Russian raw material supplies," Wieland told Reuters in an interview.
At the same time, Germany still does not have the storage technologies to make renewable electricity available even when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow, he said.
"This means we have to continue using coal and nuclear power, at least until we have a secure energy supply," said the member of the council, whose forecasts guide the German government in setting fiscal policy.
Germany's three remaining nuclear power plants are scheduled to be shut down by the end of the year.
"We will remain an energy importer in the long run," Wieland said. "In the future, that may include green hydrogen produced in Africa, for example."
He added that a major lesson from the coronavirus and Russia crises was that Germany's economy needs diversification - not just for energy, but also in the country's industry supply chains as the sector relies heavily on upstream products from abroad.
The German automotive industry's reliance on China is a particular cause for concern, Wieland said.
"Companies need to position themselves more broadly, with more suppliers and larger inventories. It's more expensive, but it's worth it."
The council of economic advisers earlier on Wednesday slashed its economic growth forecast for Europe's largest economy, citing economic uncertainty due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. (Writing by Zuzanna Szymanska; Editing by Maria Sheahan)