Germany’s risky decision to phase out nuclear power


As natural gas prices rise in Europe, Germany kicks off the new year by moving forward with plans to shut down three of its six remaining nuclear power plants, fulfilling a commitment made in the wake of the catastrophic collapse from Japan to the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. The move was championed particularly vigorously by the Greens, who are now helping to govern as part of Germany’s new ruling coalition. But soaring natural gas prices across Europe mean that this concession to the environmental lobby couldn’t come at a worse time.

It is a decision that could have consequences for the United States. As we have complained before, the AOC-backed “Green New Deal” primarily excluded nuclear, by far the most efficient and useful alternative to fossil fuels, choosing instead to rely solely on “renewables. “inadequate. And as Reuters adds in its report, Germany’s decision to withdraw the plug represents an “irreversible” pivot away from an energy source considered “clean and inexpensive by some”.

Here are more Reuters:

Germany has unplugged three of its last six nuclear power plants as it prepares to complete its phase-out from nuclear power as it focuses on renewables.

The government decided to accelerate the phase-out of nuclear power following the meltdown of Japan’s Fukushima reactor in 2011 when an earthquake and tsunami destroyed the coastal power plant in the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

The Brokdorf, Grohnde and Gundremmingen C reactors, operated by utilities E.ON and RWE, shut down on Friday evening after three and a half decades of operation.

The campaign to shut down nuclear power in Europe’s largest economy is not yet over: Germany’s last three nuclear power plants – Isar 2, Emsland and Neckarwestheim II – are expected to be closed by the end of 2022.

Preussen Elektra, the company that operates the factories in Brokdorf and Grohnde, said in a statement on Saturday that its two factories were closed shortly before midnight on Friday. Meanwhile, RWE said the Gundremmingen C power plant also stopped producing electricity on Friday evening. PreussenElektra CEO Guido Knott thanked his staff for their commitment to safety: “We have made a decisive contribution to the secure, climate-friendly and reliable electricity supply in Germany for decades. They certainly avoided any major meltdown during the period of active use of the plant. Related: Iran Plays Hard To Export Crude Oil

Just last week Julianne Geiger of wrote that Germany’s latest push to “green” its grid at the expense of nuclear power couldn’t come at a worse time. And instead of changing its energy policy to suit the times, Germany stubbornly refuses to give in and makes decisions it cannot easily reverse.

Now, the country loses a reliable source of energy as the German base power for delivery in 2022 – a European benchmark – has reached a brand new record contract of € 278.50. This is a 10% increase, as gas flowing through a pipeline from Russia to Germany has changed direction and flowed east instead.

And in an editorial published on New Years’ Day, no less an authority than the Washington Post Editorial Board was of the opinion that Germany was making a serious mistake, something which would put its people even further in check against the Russians.

Like WaPo observed, France is going in the opposite direction by choosing to build more nuclear power plants. And there is a reason for this: Trying to wean an economy off coal and fossil fuels would not only be impossible, it could be “perilous” without a consistently reliable contribution from the nuclear sector.

Absent from nuclear power, Germany is also more dependent on Russian natural gas, a deep geopolitical vulnerability that gives Russia’s authoritarian government leverage.

To be sure, the German government has made a commitment to phase out coal, but not until 2038. Even over this long period, phasing out coal without the help of nuclear power plants will be dangerous for Europe’s largest economy. Analysts warn that Germany’s supply margin – the power generation capacity the country has in reserve – could drop over the next two years, risking blackouts during times of grid stress.

Beside, French President Emmanuel Macron is going in the opposite direction, announcing plans for new nuclear reactors. France relies more on nuclear power than any other country, a major reason the country has about half of the per capita greenhouse gas emissions that Germany does. Mr Macron rightly sees expanding the country’s nuclear capacity as a better alternative than trying to rely solely on renewable energy. Solar and wind power will be essential parts of a cleaner energy mix, but the grid will still need reliable and always-on sources of electricity to support intermittent renewables. It is better if it is nuclear than coal, oil or gas.

It seems, following the recent surprise decision by the Netherlands, this nuclear energy could be Europe’s only response to the imminent dependence on Russian gas. The question is whether it is too late – or too politically untenable – for Germany to turn off the switch?


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