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
‘Green superpower’ Germany plots the way to a low-carbon world by closing Grafenrheinfeld nuclear power plant, SMH, June 20, 2015 Peter Hannam Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald
Leaving nuclear is not without its critics, especially among big utilities: Sweden’s Vattenfall is reportedly suing the German government for €4.7 billion ($6.9 billion) to compensate for its losses.
And yet, German policymakers seem determined to stick to an ambitious – and unilateral – goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent on 1990 levels, even if that means shutting near zero-carbon nuclear plants along the way. The cuts deepen to 55 per cent by 2030 and 80-95 per cent by 2050.
The country is also betting big that renewable energy mainly from wind, solar and hydro power will continue to surge beyond its current share of about 28 per cent of total supply…….
The dramatic plunge in renewable energy prices – with solar panels becoming about 20 per cent cheaper for every doubling of output – has undermined whatever business case existed for nuclear energy, Kraemer says.
“Solar is competitive with new coal and new nuclear [power plants], and even with old coal if you price the carbon emissions properly,” Kraemer says. [Andreas Kraemer, founder and director emeritus of the Ecologic Institute, a Berlin-based think tank.]
Germans freely admit that overly generous feed-in tariffs paid to those supplying renewable energy to the grid meant the country paid billions of euros too much to install solar panels on the roofs of some 3.5 million homes and small businesses in a country not known for its bounteous sunshine. Sunshine hours in Berlin, a relatively northern city, peak at an average of eight hours a day in May-July, but drop to just one hour by December, according to a local tourist guide.
The levy now costs users 6.17 euro cents (9¢) per kilowatt-hour, boosting residents’ costs for power to about 26 euro cents/KW-hour. [By contrast, this correspondent pays about 31¢ in Sydney for 100 per cent renewable power.]
The subsidies underpin Germany’s Energiewende, or energy transition, a policy which is gaining international attention. The word is apparently the most commonly searched-for German word, eclipsing angst and blitzkrieg, according to one local supporter.
Renewable energy’s share of the country’s total electricity supply has almost quadrupled. Nuclear’s share has roughly halved over the same period from 27 per cent to about 14 per cent………http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/green-superpower-germany-plots-the-way-to-a-lowcarbon-world-by-closing-grafenrheinfeld-nuclear-power-plant-20150619-ghpbcf.html
German nuclear fuel duty is legal, says European court, World Nuclear News 05 June 2015 Germany’s tax on nuclear fuel conforms to European Union laws, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled yesterday.
Since January 2011, each gram of fissile nuclear fuel loaded into a German reactor has carried a levy of €145 ($161). The tax is expected to bring in about €2.3 billion ($2.6 billion) in revenues annually.
That tax was imposed by the state as a consequence of an amendment to the 2002 Atomic Energy Act that allowed longer operating lives for German reactors. However, the government adhered to the new tax even though, in reaction to the 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan, it took away the longer lives and forced the early closure of older units. Power companies were quick to take the matter to court……..
The ECJ has now ruled that the duty on nuclear fuel is indeed compatible with EU law. It said, “By today’s judgement, the Court of Justice replies that EU law does not preclude a duty such as the German duty on nuclear fuel.”
The court rejected a claim that nuclear fuel must be exempt from taxation under the European directive on taxation of energy products and electricity. This directive exempts energy products subject to harmonized excise duty and used to produce electricity. The court noted that nuclear fuel is not included in the list of fuels set out in that directive. “In essence, the court rejects the idea that a duty cannot be levied at the same time on the consumption of electricity and on the sources from which it is produced which are not energy products within the meaning of the directive,” the ECJ said in a statement.
The ECJ also determined that the EU directive concerning the general arrangements for excise duty does not preclude the German duty on nuclear fuel. It said Germany’s tax is levied on a fuel for electricity production and not levied on the consumption of the electricity produced. It therefore does not constitute excise duty or ‘other indirect taxes’ on that product within the meaning of the directive, the court ruled.
Germany’s tax on nuclear fuel does not also constitute state aid, the court said…….http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NP-German-nuclear-fuel-duty-is-legal-says-European-court-0506155.html
we still occasionally see rubbish published around the place that there are all these coal fired power plants about to begin operation in Germany. The Carbon Tracker report points out that since 2008 there were more than 100 new coal plants announced that have not been built. Once you take into account closures, not just openings, since 2000 there has been a new reduction of 19 gigawatts of coal capacity.
The reality that blogosphere and the conservative press don’t seem to have caught up with is that with wholesale power prices stuck at low levels, construction of a new coal fired power station is a licence to haemorrhage money.
The circumstances surrounding this European utility decline look eerily familiar to the situation here in Australia. Electricity demand has stagnated, while solar PV in particular has taken off.
Could this be AGL and EnergyAustralia’s horrible fate?, Climate Spectator TRISTAN EDIS 5 JUN, “……………….A report released by the Carbon Tracker Initiative has collated a huge array of data which provides a striking summary of how Europe’s conventional power utilities have been thrown into financial turmoil since 2008 due to being squeezed at one end by improved energy productivity and at the other end by growing use of renewable energy.
As the chart below [in original article] illustrates the stock market value of the EU’s largest 5 power generators has plunged by over 100 billion euros (or 37% of their value) between 2008 to 2013. The other big utility in the chart below that has beaten the trend has been Enel which moved into renewables….
This hasn’t been simply a function of a broader economic downturn in Europe. By contrast with the plunge in these utilities’ stock value Germany’s stock market increased 18% over the same period with a major divergence emerging in performance…..
at the same time as electricity demand was stagnating, renewable energy was being pushed into the system driven by governments’ responding to public concern about climate change and a future industrial opportunity. The chart below [in original article] illustrates that while power demand has stagnated, renewables gained 10% market share from nuclear and fossil fuel generators……… Continue reading
Zero German coal plants as a reaction to Fukushima, Energy Transition, [excellent diagrams] 27 May 2015 by Craig Morris Reading headlines like “Germany’s nuclear cutback is darkening European skies” makes Craig Morris despair over the state of journalism……
..there has been no surge in coal power during the nuclear phase-out. In fact, total coal power production (both lignite and hard coal) fell by six percent last year alone. ……….
We are left with no coal plants in the pipeline as a reaction to Fukushima accident and Germany’s nuclear phase-out. Nor has there been a boom in new coal plants and coal electricity generation in Germany since the Fukushima accident. All of this information is publicly available,……Craig Morris (@PPchef) is the lead author of German Energy Transition. He directs Petite Planète and writes every workday for Renewables International. http://energytransition.de/2015/05/zero-german-coal-plants-reaction-to-fukushima/
Nazi Human Experimentation NMR’s Blog 29 May 2015 Nazi human experimentation was medical experimentation on large numbers of people by the German Nazi regime in its concentration camps during World War II. At Auschwitz, under the direction of Dr. Eduard Wirths, selected inmates were subjected to various experiments which were supposedly designed to help German military personnel in combat situations, to aid in the recovery of military personnel that had been injured, and to advance the racial ideology backed by the Third Reich.After the war, these crimes were tried at what became known as the Doctors’ Trial, and revulsion at the abuses perpetrated led to the development of the Nuremberg Code of medical ethics…………..
German utilities have ‘set aside too little’ for nuclear exit http://www.rechargenews.com/wind/1401381/german-utilities-have-set-aside-too-little-for-nuclear-exit Andrew Lee May 28 2015 Provisions set aside by German utilities for nuclear decommissioning aren’t sufficient and should be transferred into a public fund for safe keeping, says a study by the respected DIW Berlin economic think-tank.
Germany’s top four utilities E.ON, RWE, EnBW, Vattenfall have set aside €38bn ($41.4bn) to pay for the decommissioning of the country’s remaining nuclear power stations and the final storage of highly radioactive waste.But preliminary estimates assume the costs for the nuclear decommissioning and waste storage to cost at least €50-70bn, the DIW says.
Also, the provisions aren’t protected from insolvencies, and the utilities could also try to escape their responsibility by restructuring their businesses, claim the authors of the DIW study – energy experts Claudia Kemfert, Christian von Hirschhausen and Cornelia Ziehm.
It is also questionable what value the provisions will have in a couple of years given the declining profitability of large utilities.”Seen these great risks, the provisions of the nuclear corporations should be transferred into a publicly administered fund as soon as possible,” von Hirschhausen proposes.
German utilities have always said their provisions for the nuclear exit are sufficient. But Germany’s largest utility, E.ON, late last year announced its split into a company for renewables, grids and customer solutions that will keep its current brand name, and another one to be named Uniper that will bundle its current nuclear and fossil activities.
Although debt-free at its onset next year, there are doubts whether Uniper can stay profitable over the long run, while the remaining E.ON may be exempt from the nuclear responsibility.
The DIW study also said that Germany’s electricity supply will be safe also after the last nuclear plant has been switched off in 2022 as the country currently is producing far more power than it needs, a situation that isn’t expected to change even with the nuclear phase-out.
E.ON will switch off its 1.3GW Grafenrheinfeld nuclear power plant in Bavaria state in the second half of next month. The 10 terawatt hours it produces per year can be compensated by coal and gas-fired energy, the DIW says. Separately, Vattenfall and E.ON today said they have closed a cooperation agreement for the decommissioning and dismantling process of joint nuclear plants.
Germany, the Green Superpower Thomas L. Friedman, NYT MAY 6, 2015 BERLIN — A week at the American Academy in Berlin leaves me with two contradictory feelings: one is that Germany today deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, and the other is that Germany tomorrow will have to overcome its deeply ingrained post-World War II pacifism and become a more serious, activist global power. And I say both as a compliment.
On the first point, what the Germans have done in converting almost 30 percent of their electric grid to solar and wind energy from near zero in about 15 years has been a great contribution to the stability of our planet and its climate. The centerpiece of the German Energiewende, or energy transformation, was an extremely generous “feed-in tariff” that made it a no-brainer for Germans to install solar power (or wind) at home and receive a predictable high price for the energy generated off their own rooftops.
There is no denying that the early days of the feed-in tariff were expensive. The subsidies cost billions of euros, paid for through a surcharge on everyone’s electric bill. But the goal was not simply to buy more renewable energy: It was to create demand that would drive down the cost of solar and wind to make them mainstream, affordable options. And, in that, the energiewende has been an undiluted success. With price drops of more than 80 percent for solar, and 55 percent for wind, zero-carbon energy is now competitive with fossil fuels here.
In my view the greatest success of the German energy transition was giving a boost to the Chinese solar panel industry,” said Ralf Fücks, the president of the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, the German Green Party’s political foundation. “We created the mass market, and that led to the increased productivity and dramatic decrease in cost.” And all this in a country whose northern tip is the same latitude as the southern tip of Alaska!
This is a world-saving achievement. And, happily, as the price fell, the subsidies for new installations also dropped. The Germans who installed solar ended up making money, which is why the program remains popular, except in coal-producing regions. Today, more than 1.4 million German households and cooperatives are generating their own solar/wind electricity. “There are now a thousand energy cooperatives operated by private people,” said the energy economist Claudia Kemfert. Continue reading
Costs for Germany’s nuclear exit could rise to $75 billion http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/20/us-germany-utilities-nuclear-exit-idUSKBN0NB18S20150420 BERLIN Reuters) – The bill for shutting down Germany’s nuclear power plants and building a safe disposal site for nuclear waste could rise to 70 billion euros ($75 billion), the head of a government commission told daily Frankfurter Rundschau in an interview
E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall [VATN.UL] are due to switch off their nuclear plants by a 2022 deadline set by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government after the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011.
A decision by E.ON to restructure its business and spin off its conventional power plants raised additional fears that taxpayers may end up footing a portion of the bill for dismantling the nuclear plants and storing waste.
“There are significant financial risks coming up for the state,” said Michael Mueller, head of the government’s task force charged with finding a disposal site for nuclear waste.
The costs for the nuclear exit could rise to up to 70 billion euros over the next decades, meaning that the 36 billion euros ($38 billion) in provisions set aside by the four nuclear operators were not sufficient, he added.
Spokesmen from E.ON and EnBW said in separate statements that the companies’ provisions were sufficient and that they were certified on a regular basis by external auditors. conomy Minister Sigmar Gabriel has told lawmakers from his center-left Social Democrat (SPD) party that he wants to look into creating a public body to oversee the multibillion-euro risks associated with the nuclear switch-off.
The government is sounding out the option of subjecting the balance sheets of the four nuclear power plant operators to a stress test to ensure their provisions are adequate.
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber, Markus Wacket, Vera Eckert and Chris Steitz, editing by William Hardy)
West Germany ‘secretly funded Israel’s nuclear bomb’, despite Israel denials, Telegraph UK
Former chancellor Konrad Adenauer has long been accused of secretly channelling hundreds of millions of dollars into Israel’s nuclear programme in the 1960s By Justin Huggler, Berlin 14 Apr 2015
Welt newspaper repeated long-standing allegations that the government of former chancellor Konrad Adenauer secretly channelled hundreds of millions of dollars into Israel’s nuclear programme in the 1960s.
The newspaper insisted the claims were true, despite a categorical denial earlier this month from Shimon Peres, the former Israeli president, who was in charge of the nuclear weapons project at the time.
In a detailed report, Welt claimed the funds were disguised as a $500 million (£338 million) loan for the development of the Negev desert.
The arrangement was agreed at a meeting between Mr Adenauer and David Ben-Gurion, the Israeli prime minister, in New York in 1960, the newspaper claimed.
The agreement was informal and was never scrutinised by the West German cabinet or parliament.
It was known as “Aktion Geschäftsfreund”, or “Operation Business Associate” by the West German foreign ministry.
The funds were channelled to Israel through the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, a government-owned development bank.
The bank has declined to release details of its payments to Israel under the programme………
Explicit details and photographs of its weapons project were leaked by Mordechai Vanunu, a former nuclear technician, in 1986.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/11535629/West-Germany-secretly-funded-Israels-nuclear-bomb-despite-Israel-denials.html
Nuclear plant closure money insufficient – German gov’t report http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/20/germany-utilities-nadal-idUSB4N0VR00V20150320
BERLIN, March 20 Fri Mar 20, 2015 (Reuters) – A report commissioned by the German government believes nuclear power firms have not set aside enough money to cover the long-term costs of decommissioning plants, according to a copy of the report seen by Reuters on Friday.
The report from the law firm Becker Buettner Held said the 36 billion euros already set aside by Germany’s four nuclear operators E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Sweden’s Vattenfall was insufficient and meant the costs could fall on the public purse.
The report added the government should consider legal measures which would force the parent companies of nuclear power plant operators to assume liability in the case ofbankruptcy. (Reporting by Markus Wacket; Writing by Caroline Copley; Editing by Stephen Brown)
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