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The symbol to the right is from the anti-nuclear power movement in Japan.
For the German energy business, since the Japanese atomic plant crisis last week, it is no longer ‘business as usual’.
The Japan nuclear disaster has threatened to turn Germany’s long-term energy strategy upside down – with a certainty that the phasing out of nuclear plants will be moved forward sooner than planned.
Chancellor Angela Merkel took drastic action earlier this week and ordered the temporary shutdown of almost 1/2 of the country’s 17 reactors, with several of these probably never coming back online at all.
This in-turn has sent all political parties in Germany – especially the ruling CDU/CSU, FDP alliance – to quickly re-think how they can make up any possible energy shortfalls in the short term and the concomitant impact on Germany’s energy prices in the long-term.
Ms Merkel has taken the move to shut-down for a period of 3 months reactors built before 1980.
To completely abort all nuclear power in Germany would soon mean that Europe’s largest economy would have to use electricity from fossil fuels and this would completely throw out the window Ms Merkel’s commendable commitment to reduce greenhouse gas-emissions.
The danger of any new power-plants [along with the small wind-energy sector] is that they would be from coal.
Germany has lots of coal– both metallurgical and coking coal – but not cleaner natural-gas which could power energy plants.
If the atomic plants were all to close the share of German electricity generated by coal powered plants would increase to 60% from the present 45%.
Electricity prices in Germany would rise almost exponentially and with some of the highest prices already in Europe, both consumers and producers would be both adversely affected.
A traditional alternative to nuclear power, natural gas, burns more cleanly than coal but has its own drawbacks.
However almost half of the natural gas Germany presently uses comes from Russia.
Disputes with the main Russian supplier ‘Gazprom’ [sponsors in the Bundesliga of team 'Schalke 04' ] have shown them sometimes to be of questionable reliability in the past. Alternatively, Germany could diversify the supply by buying natural-gas from Norway and the Netherlands.
This blog has written about ‘Nuclear piglets’ before – http://www.ota-berlin.de/blog/tag/nuclear-piglets/
Future of Nuclear energy in Germany – One melt-down can spoil your whole week! – by OTA-Berlin Constituency Contributor Mr Emil Hoogensteyn from OTA Berlin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Germany License. If you use this article or parts of it, please refer to http://www.ota-berlin.de.