Minister signals German trust could handle nuclear waste storage http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/11/29/uk-germany-nuclear-decomissioning-idUKKBN0TI0MH20151129 Germany could share responsibility for phasing out nuclear power with energy firms by setting up a publicly managed trust, the environment minister said on Sunday.
Barbara Hendricks’ comments to Deutschlandfunk radio follow calls by Germany’s top energy firms utilities on Berlin to help handle the country’s nuclear exit and set up a trust for decommissioning plants and the storage of radioactive waste.
A government-appointed commission is tasked with recommending by early 2016 how to safeguard the funding of fulfilling the exit.
The use of a public trust is one option under discussion and closely eyed by investors, as utilities would then have to transfer certain assets, most likely cash and minority stakes.
Chancellor Angela Merkel accelerated the shift away from nuclear power and fossil fuels towards renewable sources of energy such as wind, hydro, solar and biomass power afterJapan‘s Fukushima disaster in 2011.
Germany’s “big four” utilities – E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall – have already set aside nearly 40 billion euros ($42 billion) to fund the decommissioning and waste disposal but say they cannot handle the problem on their own. Hendricks said half of provisions could remain with the utilities to pay for the dismantling of the nuclear power plants.
“And yes, if the other half was put into a publicly managed fund, so that the finances were available for finding and establishing sites for storage, then that would be progress. I would agree to that.” (Reporting By John O’Donnell and Christoph Steitz)
Germany’s planned nuclear switch-off drives energy innovation, Guardian, Jennifer Rankin , 3 Nov 15
While Britain visualises a nuclear future, Angela Merkel’s aim of replacing it with renewables by 2022 is well under way Hinkley Point will be the first nuclear power plant to be built in Europe since the meltdown of Japan’s Fukushima reactor in 2011. But while the British government sees nuclear energy as a safe and reliable source of power, Germany is going in a different direction.
As a result of the Fukushima, Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to switch off all nuclear power by 2022 and fill the gap with renewables – a process known as theenergiewende (energy transition).
Germany’s push for renewables grew out of the anti-nuclear protests of the 1980s and currently more than a quarter (26%) of its electricity comes from wind, solar and other renewable sources, such as biomass, although 44% is from coal. The country’s government wants to increase the share of renewables in electricity to 40% to 45% by 2025.
No other country of Germany’s size has attempted such a radical shift in its power supply in such a short space of time. Described by Merkel as a herculean task, the transition is Germany’s most ambitious economic project since die Wende – the phrase used to describe the fall of the Berlin wall and subsequent reunification of east and west – with an estimated cost of €1tn (£742bn) over the next two decades.
However, Reinhard Bütikofer, the Green party’s spokesman for industry in the European parliament, said the really “mind-blowing” energy transition is happening in the UK, where the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset will cost electricity customers at least £4.4bn in subsidies. “They are cutting down on solar, PV [photovoltaics], purportedly for cost reasons, while on the other hand they pledge to guarantee the nuclear industry and energy price twice the market price for the next 30 years. That’s crazy.”
The energiewende is not uncontroversial, not least due to the rising cost of subsidies paid by ordinary bill payers, which has triggered complaints that poor households are subsidising affluent dentists to put solar panels on their roofs. But the transition is not opposed by Germany’s main business lobby, the BDI, despite lingering concerns about what the transition means for the country’s manufacturing base at a time when confidence in the Made in Germany brand has been knocked by the Volkswagen scandal.
“There is broad consensus in society on the political targets – to reduce CO2 and increase energy efficiency and the share of renewables,” said Carsten Rolle, the BDI’s head of energy and climate policy………
Germany’s dash for renewables has helped to create new industries. About 370,000 Germans work in the renewable energy industry, twice the number who work in fossil fuels, according to the Heinrich Böll Foundation, a green political thinktank.
The north German port city of Bremerhaven has staged a partial revival, after decades of decline following the collapse of the shipbuilding and fishing industries in the 1970s and 1980s……..
Bütikofer said it was a myth that the push to renewables was putting German companies out of business.
“The industrial Mittelstand has always persevered, moved ahead of the curve by being more effective than others,” he said. He believed that from damaging firms, the energy law can stimulate energy efficiency. “[The energiewende] is nudging sectors of German industry towards more ambitious innovation and I think that is the name of the game for future competitiveness.” http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/02/germanys-planned-nuclear-switch-off-drives-energy-innovation
But here’s the thing about the Germans: They knew the energiewende was never going to be a walk in the forest, and yet they set out on it. What can we learn from them? We can’t transplant their desire to reject nuclear power. We can’t appropriate their experience of two great nation-changing projects—rebuilding their country when it seemed impossible, 70 years ago, and reunifying their country when it seemed forever divided, 25 years ago. But we can be inspired to think that the energiewende might be possible for other countries too.
In a recent essay William Nordhaus, a Yale economist who has spent decades studying the problem of addressing climate change, identified what he considers its essence: free riders. Because it’s a global problem, and doing something is costly, every country has an incentive to do nothing and hope that others will act. While most countries have been free riders, Germany has behaved differently: It has ridden out ahead. And in so doing, it has made the journey easier for the rest of us.
Germany Could Be a Model for How We’ll Get Power in the Future
The European nation’s energy revolution has made it a leader in replacing nukes and fossil fuels with wind and solar technology.National Geographic, By Robert Kunzig Photographs by Luca Locatelli
OCTOBER 15, 2015 “….. Germany is pioneering an epochal transformation it calls the energiewende—an energy revolution that scientists say all nations must one day complete if a climate disaster is to be averted. Among large industrial nations, Germany is a leader. Last year about 27 percent of its electricity came from renewable sources such as wind and solar power, three times what it got a decade ago and more than twice what the United States gets today. The change accelerated after the 2011 meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, which led Chancellor Angela Merkel to declare that Germany would shut all 17 of its own reactors by 2022. Nine have been switched off so far, and renewables have more than picked up the slack.
What makes Germany so important to the world, however, is the question of whether it can lead the retreat from fossil fuels. By later this century, scientists say, planet-warming carbon emissions must fall to virtually zero. Germany, the world’s fourth largest economy, has promised some of the most aggressive emission cuts—by 2020, a 40 percent cut from 1990 levels, and by 2050, at least 80 percent…….. Continue reading
Germany Could Be a Model for How We’ll Get Power in the Future
The European nation’s energy revolution has made it a leader in replacing nukes and fossil fuels with wind and solar technology. National Geographic, By Robert Kunzig Photographs by Luca Locatelli OCTOBER 15, 2015 “…..Germany’s Audacious Goal
Fell, who was installing PV panels on his roof in Hammelburg, realized that the new law would never lead to a countrywide boom: It paid people to produce energy, but not enough. In 1993 he got the city council to pass an ordinance obliging the municipal utility to guarantee any renewable energy producer a price that more than covered costs. Fell promptly organized an association of local investors to build a 15-kilowatt solar power plant—tiny by today’s standards, but the association was one of the first of its kind. Now there are hundreds in Germany.
In 1998 Fell rode a Green wave and his success in Hammelburg into the Bundestag. The Greens formed a governing coalition with the SPD. Fell teamed up with Hermann Scheer, a prominent SPD advocate of solar energy, to craft a law that in 2000 took the Hammelburg experiment nationwide and has since been imitated around the world. Its feed-in tariffs were guaranteed for 20 years, and they paid well.
“My basic principle,” Fell said, “was the payment had to be so high that investors could make a profit. We live in a market economy, after all. It’s logical.”…….
The biogas, the solar panels that cover many roofs, and especially the wind turbines allow Wildpoldsried to produce nearly five times as much electricity as it consumes. Einsiedler manages the turbines, and he’s had little trouble recruiting investors. Thirty people invested in the first one; 94 jumped on the next. “These are their wind turbines,” Einsiedler said. Wind turbines are a dramatic and sometimes controversial addition to the German landscape—“asparagification,” opponents call it—but when people have a financial stake in the asparagus, Einsiedler said, their attitude changes.
It wasn’t hard to persuade farmers and homeowners to put solar panels on their roofs; the feed-in tariff, which paid them 50 cents a kilowatt-hour when it started in 2000, was a good deal. At the peak of the boom, in 2012, 7.6 gigawatts of PV panels were installed in Germany in a single year—the equivalent, when the sun is shining, of seven nuclear plants. A German solar-panel industry blossomed, until it was undercut by lower-cost manufacturers in China—which took the boom worldwide.
Fell’s law, then, helped drive down the cost of solar and wind, making them competitive in many regions with fossil fuels. One sign of that: Germany’s tariff for large new solar facilities has fallen from 50 euro cents a kilowatt-hour to less than 10. “We’ve created a completely new situation in 15 years—that’s the huge success of the renewable energy law,” Fell said.
Germans paid for this success not through taxes but through a renewable-energy surcharge on their electricity bills. This year the surcharge is 6.17 euro cents per kilowatt-hour, which for the average customer amounts to about 18 euros a month—a hardship for some, Rosenkranz told me, but not for the average German worker. The German economy as a whole devotes about as much of its gross national product to electricity as it did in 1991.
In the 2013 elections Fell lost his seat in the Bundestag, a victim of internal Green Party politics. He’s back in Hammelburg now, but he doesn’t have to look at the steam plumes from Grafenrheinfeld: Last June the reactor became the latest to be switched off. No one, not even the industry, thinks nuclear is coming back in Germany…….
Germany’s big utilities have been losing money lately—because of the energiewende, they say; because of their failure to adapt to the energiewende, say their critics. E.ON, the largest utility, which owns Grafenrheinfeld and many other plants, declared a loss of more than three billion euros last year.
“The utilities in Germany had one strategy,” Flasbarth said, “and that was to defend their track—nuclear plus fossil. They didn’t have a strategy B.” Having missed the energiewende train as it left the station, they’re now chasing it. E.ON is splitting into two companies, one devoted to coal, gas, and nuclear, the other to renewables. The CEO, once a critic of the energiewende, is going with the renewables.
Vattenfall, a Swedish state-owned company that’s another one of Germany’s four big utilities, is attempting a similar evolution. “We’re a role model for the energiewende,” ……..
Vattenfall, however, plans to sell its lignite business, if it can find a buyer, so it can focus on renewables. It’s investing billions of euros in two new offshore wind parks in the North Sea—because there’s more wind offshore than on and because a large corporation needs a large project to pay its overhead. “We can’t do onshore in Germany,” Wiese said. “It’s too small.”
Vattenfall isn’t alone: The renewables boom has moved into the North and Baltic Seas and, increasingly, into the hands of the utilities. Merkel’s government has encouraged the shift, capping construction of solar and onshore wind and changing the rules in ways that shut out citizens associations. Last year the amount of new solar fell to around 1.9 gigawatts, a quarter of the 2012 peak. Critics say the government is helping big utilities at the expense of the citizens’ movement that launched the energiewende.
At the end of April, Vattenfall formally inaugurated its first German North Sea wind park, an 80-turbine project called DanTysk that lies some 50 miles offshore. The ceremony in a Hamburg ballroom was a happy occasion for the city of Munich too. Its municipal utility, Stadtwerke München, owns 49 percent of the project. As a result Munich now produces enough renewable electricity to supply its households, subway, and tram lines. By 2025 it plans to meet all of its demand with renewables……
Though Germany isn’t on track to meet its own goal for 2020, it’s ahead of the European Union’s schedule. It could have left things there—and many in Merkel’s CDU wanted her to do just that. Instead, she and Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel, head of the SPD, reaffirmed their 40 percent commitment last fall……..http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2015/11/climate-change/germany-renewable-energy-revolution-text
Renewable Energy In Germany Generated Almost Double The Amount From Nuclear http://cleantechnica.com/2015/10/29/renewable-energy-in-germany-generated-almost-double-the-amount-from-nuclear/ by Jake Richardson Originally published on Solar Love.
PV solar power generation in Germany is already 5% higher in the first nine months of this year than all of last year. Germany’s PV systems generated 33,193 gigawatt hours of solar electricity through the end of September, according to the German Association of Energy and Water Industries. Wind power in the first nine months of 2015 has generated 52% more than it did in all of 2014. 59,006 gigawatt hours has been produced, according to the same source.
114,723 gigawatt hours of electricity in Germany came from renewable sources in the first nine months of 2015, which was almost double the amount produced from nuclear sources. Additionally, some electricity prices have decreased from the previous year. For example, the cost of peak load power is nearly at 2002 levels.
This is all good news….the crazy thing about it is that you probably won’t hear about it anywhere but niche news sites like this one. This media oversight is a tragic deficiency, but the fact that Germany has come so far so rapidly confirms the effectiveness of renewables. This is not a small country like Costa Rica achieving 100% electricity from renewables for two months for 4.8 million people. Germany’s population is about 80 million!
Switching gradually from nuclear to renewables for such a large nation is very obviously a tremendous undertaking. How far along the path is Germany now? Some might say it won’t and can’t happen soon, but it seems to be progressing well.
Given that the price of PV solar power systems continues to drop, will there be an even greater acceleration in the rate of solar adoption? Price has been one of the major barriers, but is no longer nearly as much a factor. Another has been the lack of backup power or energy storage, but that one is being diminished too by the fact that the energy storage industry is growing quickly.
It should be pointed out that the decision to decrease reliance on nuclear power and increase investment in renewables was done before the most dramatic drop in solar power and the emergence of energy storage solutions. It will be fascinating to see how much more German renewable energy will grow in the next several years.
Germany Says Utilities’ Reserves Adequate for Nuclear-Power http://www.wsj.com/articles/germany-says-utilities-reserves-adequate-for-nuclear-power-exit-1444464002 Exit In wake of Fukushima, country plans to exit nuclear power by 2022 By STEFAN LANGE And MONICA HOUSTON-WAESCH Oct. 10, 2015 FRANKFURT—German utilities’ reserves for the country’s planned exit from nuclear power are adequate, the ministry for economics and energy said, citing a government-commissioned report on the matter.
“The affected companies have fully covered the costs with the designated provisions,” economics minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a statement.
The Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy had called for the stress test to determine whether utilities’ reserves are up to the task of financing nuclear waste and the decommissioning of plants. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany would exit nuclear power by 2022, taking utilities by surprise. In the interim, politicians have voiced concern that nuclear operators could try to duck the long-term costs, leaving taxpayers with the bill.
Existing reserves for the country’s nuclear exit amount to €38.3 billion, the report said. In a worse-case scenario, costs could come to as much as €77 billion, however this assumes an average interest rate of a negative 1.6% until the year 2099, a highly unlikely event, the report noted.
Utilities have said that since the government supported the construction of nuclear facilities, it should also participate in dismantling them. Earlier this month, the economics ministry dashed those hopes.
“There will be no state assistance,” a ministry spokeswoman said on Oct. 5.
Separately, Germany’s cabinet is due to pass a draft law within days, giving utilities longer-lasting liabilities for the costs of a nuclear exit. In mid-September, shares of RWE AG and E.ON SE, the two largest utilities in the country, plummeted over 10% amid speculation that initial results of the test showed utilities’ reserves were inadequate. At the time, Mr. Gabriel said no preliminary results were available, and that the stress test was just one factor of many in determining future policy.
At the end of 2014, E.ON had earmarked €16.6 billion, while RWE set aside €10.4 billion in reserves for the nuclear exit.
“In real terms, these are the highest provisions for an asset like this on the planet,” E.ON chief executive Johannes Teyssen said in September following his company’s decision to retain its German nuclear operations. E.ON has three nuclear plants in operation and minority stakes in a number of others.
Mr. Teyssen made the comments after the company scrapped plans to shift its nuclear operations to a new company, Uniper. E.ON will proceed with plans to split, moving conventional power, trading and exploration and production to Uniper, but E.ON will keep its German nuclear operations, it said. At the time, the company also said it expected a substantial net loss for the full year.
US Nuclear Weapons In Europe: Massive Protest Planned Against New Atomic Weapons In Germany, IBT, By Christopher Harress @Charress firstname.lastname@example.org on October 01 2015 Nearly 100,000 people in Germany have signed a petition protesting a plan to introduce U.S. nuclear weapons on German soil. The U.S. military was supposed to place new weapons in the country toward the end of 2015, but a statement from officials said that the transfer would likely take place closer to 2020.
However, this has not stopped the mass petition from moving forward, according to report by Russian state news site Sputnik. “Since this is about strengthening offensive weapons, we call on the federal government, the Parliament, the chancellor and the federal president to stop nuclear armaments on German soil,” the petition said……
The U.S. continues to maintain nuclear carrying facilities in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Turkey through a NATO sharing program. Host countries make decisions on weapons policy, maintain equipment required for the use of nuclear weapons and carry out consultations. France and the United Kingdom are the only countries in Europe that maintain state-owned nuclear arsenals.
In March 2010, a majority of German MPs decided that the government should “urge American allies to withdraw US nuclear weapons from Germany.” But instead of eliminating the weapons, the U.S. made plans to deploy 20 more, according to Sputnik. http://www.ibtimes.com/us-nuclear-weapons-europe-massive-protest-planned-against-new-atomic-weapons-germany-2122692
German support for renewables still high, low for nuclear and coal http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/german-support-for-renewables-still-high-low-for-nuclear-and-coal-26906 By Craig
Morris on 24 September 2015 Energy Transition
A recent survey conducted among the German public finds continuing support for the Energiewende. Furthermore, only a third said the cost was too high. Craig Morris says a closer look also reveals that people who already have systems close by are less likely to oppose them. The average German household currently pays 18 euros per month for the renewable energy surcharge. A survey conducted in August by TNS Emnid for renewable energy organization AEE finds that only 31 percent of the participants believe that is too much, compared to 57 percent who believe that amount is acceptable and six percent who think more needs to be paid. Overall, a whopping 93 percent of those surveyed said that further growth of renewables was “important” or “very important.”
The survey also included a question about the acceptability of specific electricity generation systems. While 68 percent support renewable energy systems in general, only seven percent like coal plants – and only four percent nuclear. Note that in all cases, acceptance increased when people already had experience living close to such plants.
Acceptance of solar power plants was the greatest at 77 percent, compared to only 59 percent for wind turbines. But notice the huge discrepancy: a far higher number (72 percent) of people who have experienced wind farms nearby support the technology.
In contrast, support for biogas units was the lowest at a mere 39 percent, rising only to 53 percent among those who already have experience or live close by to those units. This low level of support is one reason for why the government has clamped down on bioenergy in general; the other reason is cost.
Finally, the survey asked what people expect of the Energiewende. The top answer was “making the future safer for our children and grandchildren” at 77 percent, followed by “”protecting the climate” at 73 percent. In contrast, only 33 percent believe the energy transition will “lower costs for consumers in the long term.”
Questions about energy democracy – “citizens can take part in energy supply” and “more competition with power corporations” – revealed middling expectations at 57 and 50 percent, respectively. Note, however, that the question was not why people supported the Energiewende, but what outcome they expected it to produce.
Similar questions were asked in a survey from September 2013, which also found exactly 93 percent in support for the growth of renewables. Likewise, support for the various technologies has only shifted slightly, as have the expectations, which had the exact same order (with slightly different numbers) two years ago. In other words, over the past two years, support for the Energiewende has hardly changed.
German utility E.ON gives up plan to set up anew nuclear company, in view of new liability law proposed
E.ON Faces Massive Loss After Scrapping German Nuclear Spinoff
Utility said it would post a hefty net loss this year after booking billions of euros in impairments, WSJ, MONICA HOUSTON-WAESCH and FRIEDRICH GEIGER Sept. 10, 2015 BERLIN—E.ON SE will post a massive loss this year after ditching plans to unload its German nuclear operations into a new company, in a nod to government proposals to saddle utilities with liabilities related to nuclear energy.
E.ON expects to book impairment costs this quarter of as much as €9 billion ($10 billion), triggering a multibillion-euro loss. Its shares plunged to an all-time low on Thursday, dropping 6% to €9.09.
The German utility had planned to move its nuclear operations into Uniper, a company being established to operate conventional power, trading, exploration and production. The spinoff will proceed but without German nuclear activities, said E.ON, which also has Swedish nuclear operations……..
E.ON’s decision was prompted by government proposals for legal changes that would make utilities permanently liable for the costs of nuclear waste and plant decommissioning……..
E.ON now plans to bundle its German nuclear operations into an independent unit within E.ON. Its Swedish nuclear operations will be spun off into Uniper as planned……http://www.wsj.com/articles/e-on-drops-plan-to-spin-off-german-nuclear-plants-1441865094
Germany proposes changes to nuclear liability law- draft law http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/02/germany-nuclear-idUSB4N10101R20150902 BERLIN, SEPT 2 The German government has proposed changes to a law to prevent German utilities from evading the payment of billions of euros needed to fund the country’s nuclear exit, according to a copy of the draft law seen by Reuters.
The document says that utilities will be liable for the costs of shutting down power plants and disposing of nuclear waste even if they give up control of subsidiary companies or spin-offs.
A spokesperson for the economy ministry said the draft law was currently being discussed by government departments.
Under current corporate laws, companies are liable for spun off units for five years, but there has been concern utilities might break up to avoid paying for the dismantling of Germany’s nuclear plants, the last of which will be shut for good in 2022. (Reporting byGernot Heller; Writing by Caroline Copley; Editing by Madeline Chambers)
an actual location won’t be chosen until 2031, and it will take until 2050 to convert that site until it is ready to store the waste. The process of moving the waste there will then take several more decades.
Germany draws up new plan to dispose of nuclear waste http://www.dw.com/en/germany-draws-up-new-plan-to-dispose-of-nuclear-waste/a-18645069 12 Aug 15 The German government has presented its plan for permanently disposing of nuclear waste. Critics say the proposal is a tacit admission that it is a bigger problem than it has ever acknowledged before. Pausing only to get the okay from the cabinet, Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks gave a press conference on Wednesday to present the government’s brand new plan for dealing with radioactive waste. Continue reading
Germany has made a formal commitment to phase out the use of nuclear power by 2022. Erik Gawel and Sebastian Strunz write on the implications of the strategy for Germany’s future energy mix and whether the approach adopted in the country could function as a model for other European states. They argue that while the target is undeniably challenging, long-term it is economically sensible and feasible to phase out both fossil fuels and nuclear energy in favour of renewables.
Political responses to climate change and other negative consequences of conventional energies within Europe (e.g. oil spills, radioactive waste, open pit coal mining) are highly diverse. While the UK is promoting nuclear as a carbon-free energy source, for instance, Germany has embarked on a completely different path with its plan to phase out nuclear energy altogether. What is the background of Germany’s phase-out decision and how sensible is it from an economic point of view?
In order to fully answer this question, several aspects need to be acknowledged. First, the phase-out is no impulsive reaction to the Fukushima incident, which came out of the blue. Germany’s powerful anti-nuclear movement dates back to the 1970s; it bred the Green Party which entered the Parliament in 1983 and ascended to the government in 1998 by forming a coalition with the Social Democrats. In 2000 this centre-left coalition put a nuclear phase-out into law for the first time. The early 2020s were identified as the target date for a nuclear free energy system. While subsequent revisions of the law have changed the specifics, the currently stipulated year for the last plant to be shut down, 2022, is well in line with this original perspective. Thus, the phase-out project has always been crafted as a long-term and step-wise process.
Second, the Fukushima disaster effectively killed the narrative that nuclear power was necessary as a ‘bridging technology’ toward a renewables-based energy system. While conservatives had previously argued in line with this logic (and the government led by Chancellor Merkel in 2010 diluted the first phase-out law from 2000 by extending the running times of nuclear plants), they reversed their position after Fukushima. The most immediate consequence of Merkel’s shift on nuclear was the prompt shutdown of seven nuclear power plants in spring 2011. Due to overcapacities, this drop has neither proven to be problematic for the security of supply (contrary to the conservatives’ claims before 2011) nor has it led to an enduring increase of wholesale prices or a requirement to import foreign nuclear power. In fact, Germany is still a net exporter of electricity.
Third, Germany is not alone in phasing out nuclear power. As can be seen from Table 1, [in original] there are several countries in Europe that do not rely on nuclear power or have also declared their intention to stop nuclear energy production. While some of the countries without nuclear are smaller EU member states, it is noteworthy that Italy, another highly industrialised economy and member of the G7, has never used nuclear power. The highly diverse picture of nuclear energy in Europe becomes complete when the huge differences in nuclear-shares among countries are considered, as well as the fact that countries such as Poland intend to enter this form of energy………..
Is nuclear power a necessary part of a future energy mix?
All things considered, is nuclear power necessary for decarbonising the energy supply while also ensuring security of supply? The German experience shows that renewable energies may contribute major shares of the electricity supply – without jeopardising energy security in a highly industrialised economy and even under challenging natural frame conditions in Germany for renewables, provided that there is a long-term transition perspective and a stable political consensus.
Moreover, it may be questioned whether the long-term risks associated with nuclear power really fit the requirements of any sustainable energy system which demands being more than simply carbon-free. But even apart from such sustainability issues, the apparent need for heavy subsidies to render new nuclear plants economically viable undercuts the claim that nuclear is cheaper than renewable energy sources, even in terms of financial costs only. On the contrary, a recent Prognos study estimates that “new wind and solar can provide carbon-free power at up to 50 per cent lower generation costs than new nuclear”. Accounting for backup requirements in times without wind or sun, a combined system of wind, solar and gas is still 20 per cent cheaper than a system of nuclear and gas.
Sure enough, Germany has to cope with the side-effects of the transition (e.g. current rises in retail electricity prices) and interactions with other developments (e.g. increasing electricity production from lignitemainly due to high gas prices and the record low emission allowance prices). Yet, nuclear energy is rarely an inevitable part of decarbonising energy provision. Until now, Germany’s political consensus is very solid in this respect – and while the transition effort is indeed challenging, this does not diminish its merits from an economic point of view: in the long run, it seems both sensible and feasible to phase out fossil and nuclear energies in favour of renewables, thus treading a long but well-considered path towards comprehensive sustainability of energy provision, including long-term cost-effectiveness.
Source: This article was first published at the LSE’s Europblog http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/why-germanys-decision-to-phase-out-nuclear-power-is-smart-economics-49500
Germany Just Got 78 Percent Of Its Electricity From Renewable Sources, Think Progress BY ARI PHILLIPS JUL 29, 2015 ON SATURDAY, JULY 25, GERMANY SET A NEW NATIONAL RECORD FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY BY MEETING 78 PERCENT OF THE DAY’S ELECTRICITY DEMAND WITH RENEWABLES SOURCES, EXCEEDING THE PREVIOUS RECORD OF 74 PERCENT SET IN MAY OF 2014.
According to an analysis by German energy expert Craig Morris at the Energiewende blog, a stormy day across northern Europe combined with sunny conditions in southern Germany led to the new record, the exact figures of which are still preliminary. Morris writes that most of Germany’s wind turbines are installed in the north and most of its solar panels are in the south.
If the figures hold, it will turn out that wind and solar generated 40.65 gigawatts (GW) of power on July 25. When this is combined with other forms of renewables, including 4.85 GW from biomass and 2.4 GW from hydropower, the total reaches 47.9 GW of renewable power — occurring at a time when peak power demand was 61.1 GW on Saturday afternoon. To bolster his analysis, Morris points to early figures from Agora Energiewende, a Germany energy policy firm, that have renewables making up 79 percent of domestic power consumption that day.
Renewable sources accounted for 27.8 percent of Germany’s power consumption in 2014, up from 6.2 percent in 2000. The expansion of renewables and another weather phenomenon — a relatively mild winter — led to Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions falling for the first time in three years in 2014, a 4.3 percent year-over-year drop. Greenhouse gas emissions are now down to their lowest level since 1990, according to analysts at Agora Energiewende.
This made 2014 a big year for Germany’s renewable energy transition, known as Energiewende, which requires the phasing out of nuclear energy by 2022 and reducing greenhouse gases at least 80 percent by 2050. The government also wants the at least double the percentage of renewables in the energy mix by 2035………..
As more and more wind turbines and solar panels come online there is a major technology push to create better forecasting software and to increase the efficiency and enhance the location of these forms of power. IBM and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recentlyannounced that they are working on a producing solar and wind forecasting that’s at least 30 percent more accurate than conventional methods.
“There is good reason to believe that with better forecasts, it might be possible to push solar’s energy contribution up to 50 percent [by 2050],” IBM Research Manager Hendrick Hamann recently said about the United States. “As we continue to refine our system in collaboration with the DOE, we hope to double the accuracy of the system in the next year. That could have a huge impact on the energy industry — and on local businesses, the economy and the natural environment.” http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/07/29/3685555/germany-sets-new-renewable-energy-record/
Berlin says utilities can’t dodge responsibility for nuclear waste http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/03/us-germany-energy-nuclear-waste-idUSKCN0PD18A20150703
German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Friday that if the provisions by utilities for shutting down nuclear power plants were not sufficient, the government needed to discuss asking the companies to make further payments.
Gabriel also said that Berlin wanted to rule out quickly by law the possibility for utilities to reduce their financial liability regarding the de-nuclearization of the country.
Germany’s four nuclear operators — E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall — have set aside around 36 billion euros ($39.99 billion) in provisions for shutting down nuclear power plants and building a safe disposal site for highly radioactive waste.
(Reporting by Gernot Heller; Writing by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Michelle Martin)
Germany’s Energy Revolution goes from strength to strength as the Grafenrheinfeld nuclear reactor closes http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/nuclear-reaction/grafenrheinfeld-nuclear-reactor-closure/blog/53355/
One less nuclear reactor threat to the people of Europe with the early closure of the Grafenrheinfeld nuclear reactor. Germany’s 33 year-old Grafenrheinfeld nuclear reactor will be shut down permanently on June 27th as the country’s phase out of nuclear power continues. It’s the first reactor to close since Germany passed its Atomic Energy Act in July 2011 which requires the closure of all commercial nuclear reactors by the end of 2022.
The reactor is being shutdown seven months early as the disastrous economics of nuclear power and Germany’s drive for clean and sustainable energy have made it impossible for its owner E.ON to operate the reactor and make a profit.
E.ON and other large nuclear utilities only have themselves to blame. They failed to anticipate the growth of renewable energy and so they failed to invest in it. At the same time, electricity prices have fallen making their nuclear power plants even less profitable.
That said, even E.ON is waking up to the new energy future of Germany. “The transformation of Europe’s energy system continues to offer us attractive growth opportunities in renewables and distributed energy,” said the company in a report from March this year.
But what are the implications of the closure of Grafenrheinfeld? Won’t it leave an energy gap?
In short: no. Continue reading
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