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Germany’s admirable record in promoting renewable energy, as it leaves nuclear behind.

The nuclear shenanigans aren’t enough to take away Germany’s crown as a climate-forward country. The politics that sped up the nuclear phaseout also created room for a renewables boom. Starting with the Renewable Energy Sources Act in 2000, Germany’s energy policy, known as energiewende, created some of the most generous subsidies for solar power. ………..

 Germany moved ahead with a plan to shut off nearly 50 per cent of its nuclear power plants, with the rest scheduled to close by the end of 2022. Some asked how a climate-forward country could lay waste to a source of zero-carbon power, [zero carbon? not so] especially when there’s a shortage of it. Others
pointed out that Germany’s renewables investments are for naught if it has to fill up the nuclear quota using dirty coal. Outrageous, right?

Not so fast, says Nikos Tsafos, an energy and climate analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It’s very easy to solve climate change if I’m not politically constrained.” Any sensible climate plan
requires that clean energy replaces dirty sources quickly, while at the same time efficiency measures cut the demand for energy overall.

That, in theory, would result in a smooth decline in emissions as laid out in scientific models. Reality, however, is anything but smooth. The transition will inevitably be shaped by human particularities.

The nuclear shenanigans aren’t enough to take away Germany’s crown as a climate-forward country. The politics that sped up the nuclear phaseout also created room for a renewables boom. Starting with the Renewable Energy Sources Act in 2000, Germany’s energy policy, known as energiewende, created some of the most generous subsidies for solar power. These came in the form of guaranteed prices (or feed-in tariffs) for generating solar power. German taxpayers paid billions of euros to support a new technology. The demand created giant solar companies, including many in China, that progressively made the technology cheaper (with additional support in the form of Chinese subsidies) and thus more accessible to the rest of the world.

 Financial Post 11th Jan 2022

January 15, 2022 Posted by | Germany, renewable | Leave a comment

Germany to stick to its guns on phasing out nuclear and coal energy   BERLIN, Jan 12 (Reuters) – Germany will push ahead with phasing out nuclear and coal energy despite rising energy prices, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday, adding that nuclear power made no economic sense given the high cost of storing waste…….
Scholz told parliament that his government would instead expedite the process of gaining permission to expand solar and wind farms to push prices down and meet power demand expected to rise to about 800 terawatts (TW) in 2030 from around 600 TW today.

January 13, 2022 Posted by | Germany, politics | Leave a comment

Downright absurd to classify a technology with the potential danger of nuclear power plants as green and sustainable.

I am very sure that not a single private company will ever build a nuclear power plant on its own account and at its own risk. The taxonomy does not change that. At best, it reduces the enormous government subsidies needed to push this technology into the market

“Nuclear is the opposite of what wind & solar need to partner with” – ex energy state sec Nuclear phase-outEnergiewende Clean Energy Wire, 11 Jan 22 Without the anti-nuclear movement, the energy transition in Germany would likely look different. But despite a strong focus on fighting nuclear power, the civil society movement that marked the rise of the Green Party has always had the climate in mind and wanted to ensure that reactors weren’t substituted with coal plants.

Clean Energy Wire spoke to Rainer Baake, director of the Climate Neutrality Foundation, former energy state secretary, and one of the architects of the original German nuclear phase-out in 2000. He says that with all democratic parties pledged to the exit timetable, it is “absolutely out of the question” that Germany returns to using this high-risk technology. With a decision to include nuclear as a sustainable investment, the EU Commission would discredit the taxonomy, he said. “However, this will not stop the energy transition in Germany.”

…………………………………….  The whole energy transition consists of replacing conventional power plants, nuclear as well as fossil power plants with renewables. And that’s what we started with simultaneously. When the nuclear phase-out was decided, the Renewable Energies Act was created. As a consequence of the Kyoto protocol, we decided on an emissions trading system in Europe. Nuclear energy will be history on 31 December 2022 and we will also completely phase out coal in this decade and replace both with renewables. The next step will be to exchange fossil natural gas against hydrogen.

…………………… Can nuclear power, as supplied by today’s nuclear power plants, make a meaningful contribution to an electricity system dominated by renewables? As base load or for other system services?

Is it a problem for the German energy transition if other (European) countries, also with the help of the new European taxonomy, invest in nuclear power instead of renewables?

The opposite is true. A climate-friendly electricity system dominated by weather-dependent production from wind and solar plants requires a great deal of flexibility to balance fluctuating supply with fluctuating demand. Nuclear power plants are technically and operationally designed to produce as consistently as possible. They are the exact opposite of what wind and solar need to partner with.

Is it a problem for the German energy transition if other (European) countries, also with the help of the new European taxonomy, invest in nuclear power instead of renewables?

I find it downright absurd to classify a technology with the potential danger of nuclear power plants as green and sustainable. And even more so because it produces radioactive waste that remains dangerous for the unimaginable period of a million years, and for which we have not yet found a safe solution. With this decision, the EU Commission discredits the taxonomy. However, this will not stop the energy transition in Germany.

I am very sure that not a single private company will ever build a nuclear power plant on its own account and at its own risk. The taxonomy does not change that. At best, it reduces the enormous government subsidies needed to push this technology into the market.

While innovations and learning curves over the past 20 years have ensured that renewable energies have become increasingly cheaper, the costs of nuclear energy have risen more and more. In this respect, it is no wonder that, according to IEA figures, 70 percent of global investment in the power sector now goes to renewable energies.

A  recent survey showed that a slight majority of Germans would agree to give nuclear power a role for climate protection reasons. Do you see the possibility that attitudes towards nuclear power could change again in Germany?

What survey? Since Chernobyl, all the polls I know of have shown clear majorities in favour of phasing out nuclear power. Take a look at the last federal election, all democratic parties are sticking to the timetable for the nuclear phase-out and support the expansion of renewable energies. The last three reactors will go offline at the end of this year. This will mark the end of the use of nuclear energy in Germany.

Is there any scenario next year in which Germany will let the existing nuclear power plants run longer after all, as some are calling for?

I consider such a scenario to be absolutely out of the question.

Do you see the new small-scale nuclear reactors as a chance for a renewed use of nuclear power in the fight against the climate crisis?

These reactors, which allegedly are completely safe and produce no nuclear waste, have one major disadvantage: they don’t exist.

The 400 nuclear power plants in existence worldwide today cover only about ten percent of the demand for electricity. If we wanted to replace global fossil power generation with small nuclear reactors, we would need many thousands of these power plants. Precisely because they are so small, they would have to operate with highly enriched uranium. The danger that nuclear fuel would be illegally diverted and used to build bombs is real. No one can want that, and hopefully the free world will not allow it.      

January 11, 2022 Posted by | climate change, Germany | Leave a comment

German government struggles to unite on EU energy proposal

German government struggles to unite on EU energy proposal, DW, 4 Jan 22,

The EU Commission’s proposal to classify nuclear power and natural gas plants as “green” investments has sparked debate in Germany’s new coalition government. Conflict is also brewing between EU states.

Less than a month after Germany’s new coalition government was sworn in, it is facing a major test: To find a united stance in response to a controversial proposal by the EU Commission, published on New Year’s Eve.

The EU Commission wants to label natural gas and nuclear power as climate-friendly, and include investments in both energies on its long-awaited taxonomy list — a green labeling system for investments in the energy sector.

The list is part of the bloc’s plans to decarbonize the European economy and build clean power plants, which will require the investment of billions of euros.

Under the draft proposal, the gas and nuclear plants must meet certain criteria: Investment in new nuclear plants as they are planned in France, the Netherlands, and Poland, can be considered “sustainable” only if respective states ensure they meet the latest technology standards, and provide a concrete plan for the disposal for high-level radioactive waste. 

Natural gas plants could also be granted a green label for a limited period of time, provided certain criteria are met. These could involve limits on the amount of greenhouse gas emitted or proving that the plants can also be operated with green hydrogen or low-carbon gas. 

The classification of economic activities by the EU Commission under the so-called taxonomy is intended to enable investors to switch their investments to more sustainable technologies and companies.

Divided coalition………………

Climate and Economy Minister and Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck, told German press agency dpa that he felt the EU proposal “waters down the good label for sustainability.”

“It’s questionable whether this greenwashing will be accepted by the financial markets anyway,” the Green politician said.

Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) also rated the EU proposal as “questionable.”………….

Klaus Jacob of the Research Center for Environment Policy at Berlin’s Freie Universität says the debate within the government was completely foreseeable.

“This isn’t a predetermined breaking point in the coalition,” Jacob told DW…………………….

Nuclear phaseout nearing completion

The three governing coalition parties are, however, in agreement when it comes to the phaseout of nuclear energy. Germany’s last nuclear power plants are due to be decommissioned just a year from now.

The decision to phase out nuclear power was made during the 1998-2003 coalition between the SPD and Greens under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, in response to the realization that there was no way to store nuclear waste safely. Almost two decades earlier, Germany’s anti-nuclear protests gave birth to the Green Party and the phaseout has long been one of its core policies.

Angela Merkel’s coalition government of center-right Christian Democrats and FDP then rolled back the phaseout. But in 2011, after the accident at the Fukushima atomic power plant in Japan, Merkel made an about-turn and decided to push through with the phaseout after all.

Referring to the EU’s plans to green label nuclear energy, Environment Minister Lemke said the Commission “creates the great danger of blocking and damaging really viable, sustainable investments in favor of dangerous nuclear power.”……………

EU fissure

The 27 EU member states now have until January 12 to comment on the Commission’s draft. But it’s unlikely that the proposal can be blocked. Besides Germany, only Austria, Luxembourg, Denmark, and Portugal have voiced criticism. 

Implementation can only be prevented if at least 20 EU countries (representing at least 65% of the total EU population) or at least 353 members of parliament vote against it.

Other EU countries are continuing to push nuclear energy and campaign for it to be included on the EU’s list of sustainable energy sources eligible for investment — prominently France which holds the rotating EU presidency and is heading for presidential elections in April.

Austria, meanwhile, is threatening to go to the European Court of Justice to stop the draft from being passed.

Edited by Rina Goldenberg

January 4, 2022 Posted by | climate change, Germany, politics | Leave a comment

German Greens fight plan to funnel billions of euros into the nuclear industry via deceptive taxonomy ”sustainable” label

German Greens lead attack on EU plan to label nuclear power ‘sustainable’. Brussels’ proposal is central to European goal of channelling billions of euros into green investments,,  Mehreen Khan in Brussels and Joe Miller in Frankfurt 3 Jan 21,
  Germany, Austria and Luxembourg have hit out at Brussels’ plans to classify nuclear power as a sustainable technology in the EU’s landmark labelling system for green investment, which is central to Europe’s plans to decarbonise the bloc’s economy. German economy minister Robert Habeck, who is a member of the Green party in the country’s governing coalition, said: “It is questionable whether this greenwashing will even find acceptance on the financial market.” He told German press agency DPA on Saturday: “In our view, there was no need for this addition to the taxonomy rules.”  

Brussels’ proposal is part of a so-called “taxonomy” list, which aims to help channel billions of euros of investment needed to decarbonise the bloc’s economy. The plan, the first attempt by a leading regulator to bring clarity to investors seeking to put private capital into sustainable economic activity, covers about 80 per cent of the bloc’s emissions and is intended to be a “gold standard” for markets to decide what is truly green or not. But the process has been beset by fierce political infighting inside the European Commission and its member states.

Leonore Gewessler, Austria’s minister for climate and energy, said on Saturday that Vienna would consider suing the European Commission if the classification of nuclear power as green went ahead. Claude Turmes, Luxembourg’s energy minister, meanwhile called the inclusion of nuclear power a “provocation”.  The inclusion of nuclear power is widely seen as a victory for the French government which has urged Brussels to ensure the new rules do not punish a technology that provides almost two-thirds of French electricity. Nuclear reactors do not generate CO2 emissions but produce highly toxic waste…………..
The Brussels draft text will form part of a consultation with EU countries and independent experts that will run until January 12. However, anti-nuclear EU governments do not have the power to veto the taxonomy, which diplomats say is likely to win majority support in the EU Council. Astrid Matthey, one of the independent experts who advises the commission on the rules, criticised the draft for “contradicting the very purpose of the taxonomy”. 

“The conditions under which both technologies are to be included are far from ensuring that we reach the Paris climate targets and do-no-significant-harm to the environment. There is still a long way to go for this draft to become aligned with the Green Deal and the EU’s environmental targets”, said Matthey.

January 3, 2022 Posted by | climate change, Germany | Leave a comment

A technology that leaves behind hazardous wastes ”cannot be sustainable”

 Federal government calls EU nuclear push “greenwashing”. Environment
Minister Lemke and Economics Minister Habeck sharply criticize the EU
Commission’s nuclear proposal. A technology that leaves behind hazardous
waste “cannot be sustainable”., Spiegel 1st Jan 2022

January 3, 2022 Posted by | climate change, Germany | Leave a comment

In Germany, coal-produced electricity has dropped, along with nuclear, while renewable-provided electricity continues to increase

Paul Dorfman: I disagree with Lord Howell of Guildford’s assertion (letter, Dec 29) that the decline of nuclear power in Germany has been accompanied by an increase in coal burning. Electricity generation
from coal in Germany dropped nearly 40TWh in 2020 as nuclear generation fell by 11TWh the same year.

The growth in renewables has outstripped the drop in nuclear power by almost double. Since 2011, nuclear in the German electricity mix halved from 22 per cent to 11 per cent, while the share of renewables increased from 17 per cent to 45 per cent.

Not only that, but Germany regularly has the lowest wholesale electricity prices in Europe after Scandinavia. The simple fact is that nuclear power plants are by far the most expensive technology for generating electricity.

 Times 29th Dec 2021

January 1, 2022 Posted by | ENERGY, Germany | Leave a comment

Germany shuts down half of its remaining nuclear plants

Germany shuts down half of its remaining nuclear plants Aljazeera, 31 Dec 21,

Decision to close three facilities comes a year before decades-long use of atomic power winds down for good………

One of the plants – Brokdorf, located about 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of Hamburg on the Elbe River – became a particular focus of anti-nuclear protests that were driven by the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe in the Soviet Union.

The other two plants are Grohnde, about 40km (25 miles) south of Hannover, and Grundremmingen, 80km (50 miles) west of Munich.

……………… the German government said this week that decommissioning all nuclear plants next year and then phasing out the use of coal by 2030 will not affect the country’s energy security or its goal of making Europe’s biggest economy “climate neutral” by 2045.

“By massively increasing renewable energy and accelerating the expansion of the electricity grid we can show that this is possible in Germany,” Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck said.

Several of Germany’s neighbours have already ended nuclear power or announced plans to do so, but others are sticking with the technology. This has prompted concerns of a nuclear rift in Europe, with France planning to build new reactors and Germany opting for natural gas as a compromise until enough renewable power is available, and both sides arguing their preferred source of energy be classed as sustainable.

Germany’s remaining three nuclear plants — Emsland, Isar and Neckarwestheim — will be closed by the end of 2022.

While some jobs will be lost, utility company RWE said more than two-thirds of the 600 workers at its Gundremmingen nuclear power station will continue to be involved in post-shutdown operations through to the 2030s. Germany’s nuclear power companies will receive almost $3bn for the early shutdown of their plants.

Environment Minister Steffi Lemke has dismissed suggestions that a new generation of nuclear power plants might prompt Germany to change course yet again.

“Nuclear power plants remain high-risk facilities that produce highly radioactive atomic waste,” she told the Funke media group this week.

A final decision has yet to be taken about where to store tens of thousands of tonnes of nuclear waste produced in German power plants. Experts say some material will remain dangerously radioactive for 35,000 generations.

January 1, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, Germany | Leave a comment

Germany aiming for far-reaching methods to reduce carbon emissions across all sectors

Germany is likely to fail to hit its carbon emissions reduction targets in
the coming two years, Economy and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck
told Die Zeit newspaper. The previous government set more ambitious CO2
reduction targets, including being carbon neutral by 2040, after a top
court ruled in April that Germany must tighten its climate protection law.

The new coalition government presented plans to step up climate protection
efforts entailing far-reaching reforms for the utility sector and across
manufacturing industries, buildings, transport and agriculture.”We will
probably miss our targets for 2022. … Even for 2023 it will be difficult
enough. We are starting with a drastic backlog,” said Habeck, co-leader of
the Greens who are part of the new ruling coalition. Germany aims to cut
emissions in industry, the biggest carbon emitting sector, to 177 million
CO2 tonnes in 2022, down 38% compared with 1990.

 Independent 30th Dec 2021

January 1, 2022 Posted by | climate change, Germany | Leave a comment

Dismantling of German nuclear reactor will be expensive, but provide jobs for several decades.

Asked about possible job losses, Gundremmingen mayor Tobias Buehler said
the plant’s employees would be busy with dismantling the reactor after the
shutdown. “And this period of dismantling will certainly take another one
or two decades,” Buehler said. Total costs for the dismantling are
estimated by E.ON at 1.1 billion euros ($1.25 billion) per plant. In 2020,
E.ON made provisions of 9.4 billion euros for the nuclear post-operational
phase, including dismantling the facility, packaging and cleaning up the
radioactive waste. The dismantling is expected to be completed by 2040.

 NBC 30th Dec 2021

January 1, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, employment, Germany | Leave a comment

Germany will pull the plug on 3 of its last 6 nuclear power stations

Germany will pull the plug on three of its last six nuclear power stations
on Friday, another step towards completing its withdrawal from nuclear
power as it turns its focus to renewables.

The government decided to speed
up its phasing out of nuclear power following Japan’s Fukushima reactor
meltdown in 2011 when an earthquake and tsunami destroyed the coastal plant
in the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl 25 years earlier.

The reactors of Brokdorf, Grohnde and Gundremmingen C, run by utilities E.ON
(EONGn.DE) and RWE (RWEG.DE), will be shut down on Friday after three and
half decades in operation. The last three nuclear power plants – Isar 2,
Emsland and Neckarwestheim II – will be turned off by the end of 2022.

 Reuters 30th Dec 2021

January 1, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, Germany | Leave a comment

Nuclear power in the EU taxonomy and Germany’s position

Q&A: Why is Germany phasing-out nuclear power and why now? 28 Dec 2021,  Kerstine Appunn ”……………………………..Nuclear power in the EU taxonomy and Germany’s position

Observers have called France’s push to include nuclear power projects in the EU taxonomy as a sustainable investment a “political nightmare” for Germany. Backed by a group of other European countries such as Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Finland, Hungary, Poland and Romania, French President Emmanuel Macron tries to make nuclear power a pillar of the EU’s decarbonisation strategy, while Germany is betting heavily on wind and solar power. It is supported in its push for a nuclear-free taxonomy by Portugal, Austria, Luxembourg and Denmark. Germany’s new Chancellor Olaf Scholz, of the Social Democrats (SPD), has told Macron that he has always been opposed to nuclear power, much like his coalition partner, the Green Party.

If included in the taxonomy, nuclear power investments could be part of green funds, banks could declare loans to nuclear projects as sustainable investments – all in aid of getting more private investment to flow into climate friendly economic activities and businesses.

Agora Energiewende’s Müller says the German approach is still more future-proof. “The idea that nuclear power stations can be built at predictable costs and by a predictable schedule has not proven to be realistic. We also still have the unresolved problem of nuclear waste storage as well as the possibility of a major accident. Germany’s decision to focus on the expansion of renewables instead of nuclear is reflected also by the markets as renewables dominate electricity investments internationally.”

The European Commission is set to come out with a proposal for the taxonomy in January 2022, which EU member states will then decide on with a majority vote. Instead of an in-or-out decision on nuclear (and natural gas), the commission is likely to present a compromise that would classify nuclear as a temporary, transitional technology which has to be labelled and declared in funds so that consumers and investors have the choice between “entirely green” products, e.g. renewable energies, or second or third tier products that include nuclear or gas technology.

Whatever the decision, Müller says Germany and France should focus more on the common ground concerning the energy transition. “Recent French studies show – independently of the future of nuclear energy – that a massive expansion of renewables is needed to reach the climate targets. And there are also opportunities for cooperation between Germany and France on green hydrogen.”

Shouldn’t Germany – like other countries – embrace and support the use of new small modular reactors?

Using a large fleet of small modular reactors (SMR) to secure climate neutral electricity supply in the future – as proposed by billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates – has been hailed as a climate change solution. In Belgium, which is set to shutter its two remaining nuclear power stations by 2025, the government agreed to invest 100 million euros in the research on SMR.

SMR proponents claim that, once produced in bulk, these small plants are cheaper and safer thanks to advanced reactor designs and can be operated with converted short-lived radioactive materials, solving the waste problem.

But two assessments commissioned by the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BASE) have found that these tens of thousands of small reactors would carry enormous risks with regard to the proliferation of weapons-grade materials and will probably never be as cheap as their advocates say.

What is different in Germany compared to other countries in Europe which embrace nuclear as a CO2-free solution?

Germany not only has strong public support for, and a long history of, anti-nuclear sentiment, it also has only 11 percent of nuclear left in its power mix. Leaving it behind entirely is therefore a more obvious and easy decision than for other countries, such as France, where the share of nuclear power in domestic generation stands at 70.6 percent, but also in Bulgaria with 40.8 percent, in Sweden with 29.8 percent (in Spain: 22.2%, Russia at 20.%, United States at 19.7%, UK 16%, all in 2020).

Historians also explain the different attitude towards nuclear with the different reactions to the Chernobyl accident, which was felt much closer and more threatening to Germans compared to French or UK citizens. Another explanation for Germany’s sensitivity to nuclear power is that early on, the post-war critique of nuclear weapons was linked to the civilian use of nuclear fission. (A second wave of the German peace movement in the 1980s would also bolster a younger generation’s resistance to nuclear power.)

And even if there are people who make a case for nuclear for climate protection reasons, the exit has now proceeded too far to be reversed, and there is simply no influential political power that would consider re-opening the painful, decade-long debate on nuclear power that has finally been put to rest.

December 30, 2021 Posted by | climate change, Germany, politics international | Leave a comment

Q&A: Why is Germany phasing-out nuclear power and why now?   

Q&A: Why is Germany phasing-out nuclear power and why now?
   28 Dec 2021, 10:18 Kerstine Appunn


Facts of the German nuclear phase-out.……………..

How did the nuclear phase-out come about in Germany?…………….

Why the nuclear phase-out was the enabler of the energy transition………………..

What do different stakeholders in Germany think about the nuclear exit?………………..

Is there still a debate to continue the use of nuclear power and could its proponents succeed?………….

Why isn’t Germany phasing out coal before nuclear?………….

Will Germany emit more CO2 because of the nuclear phase-out?……………

No nuclear, no coal: Will the lights stay on?……………..

How does Germany want to make net-zero happen without nuclear?………………..

Why doesn’t Germany get an energy system with both renewables AND nuclear?………….

Will Germany become dependent on (nuclear) power imports from abroad?…………..

What’s more expensive – renewables or nuclear?…………

Nuclear power in the EU taxonomy and Germany’s position………….

Shouldn’t Germany – like other countries – embrace and support the use of new small modular reactors? …………………

What is different in Germany compared to other countries in Europe which embrace nuclear as a CO2-free solution?………………

Facts of the German nuclear phase-out

The last nuclear power plant in Germany will cease operation in December 2022. This definitive end-date is part of the 2011 Nuclear Energy Act (Atomgesetz) which withdrew the authorisation to operate nuclear reactors for power generation according to a phase-out schedule. From having a share of 22.2 percent in total electricity generation in 2010, the contribution of nuclear decreased to 11 percent in 2020. At the same time, renewables such as wind, solar PV and biogas provided around 45 percent of power generation in 2020.  After three out of six remaining reactors are shuttered in December 2021 (Grohnde, Gundremmingen C and Brokdorf), only three (with a combined capacity of 4 GW) will remain in service throughout 2022 (Isar 2, Emsland and Neckarwestheim 2).

…………………………………..   What do different stakeholders in Germany think about the nuclear exit?

Ever since the latest nuclear phase-out was decided by a large majority in the federal parliament (Bundestag) in 2011, the public has remained supportive of exiting nuclear power for good.

The German government since 2011 has remained steadfast in its decision despite going through a difficult process of securing the money from reactor operators to ensure their safe deconstruction and storage of radioactive waste, initiating the search for a permanent waste storage facility, and weathering the legal proceedings following the not-quite constitutional compensation regulations in the nuclear exit law.. SPD environment minister Svenja Schulze said at the 2021 anniversary of the Fukushima accident that “nuclear power is neither safe nor clean” and could not be a part of a low-carbon power production. Angela Merkel reiterated in her last summer press conferences before the end of her chancellorship, that “the nuclear phase-out is the right thing to do for Germany”, adding that this could be seen differently by other countries and activists who push for climate neutrality. “I don’t think nuclear energy is a sustainable form of energy in the long term,” Merkel said.

The new German government of Social Democrats (SPD), Green Party and Free Democrats (FDP) which took office in December 2021 wrote in its coalition treaty “we stand by the nuclear phase-out”. The new (Green Party) environment minister Steffi Lemke said in December 2021: “Nuclear power would make our energy supply neither safer nor cheaper. A technology that has no solution for the disposal of toxic waste cannot be sustainable.” Climate and economy minister Robert Habeck (Green Party) said on 28 December: “The nuclear phase-out in Germany has been decided, clearly regulated by law and is valid. Security of supply in Germany continues to be guaranteed. Now it is important to consistently push ahead with the transition of our energy supply.”…………

Energy utilities and operators of Germany’s remaining nuclear power stations are adamant that there will be no extension of the reactors’ runtime. The large German utilities have – after years of struggling – embraced a renewable future and the planning security that the end of nuclear power gives them. They also point out that all the legal (compensation) issues of the nuclear phase-out have been resolved, operating licenses are scheduled to expire and difficult to re-obtain, contracts with suppliers and other service companies have been terminated, staff has been reassigned and there is no longer enough fuel…………….
It is “completely out of the question” that German nuclear power plants will get another lifetime extension, said Rainer Baake. “Because the operators don’t want it. Because there is no serious force in politics that is pursuing a lifetime extension, and the topic played no role in the coalition negotiations. Voters have not forgotten Chernobyl and Fukushima and know that there are better alternatives.”…………

Will Germany emit more CO2 because of the nuclear phase-out?……………

Economists of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) conclude in a recent paper that “the decline in nuclear power will temporarily lead to a higher use of fossil energies and imports, which will increase CO2 emissions in the short term. However, these should be quickly reduced by the accelerated expansion of renewable energies.” In the short term, nuclear power will indeed be substituted by fossil power plants and via imports. Imports increase by 15 terawatt-hours (TWh), emissions will be around 40 million tonnes CO2 higher, according to the DIW. Other research shows that in the context of the overall cap of the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), rising emissions in Germany would be compensated by lower emissions in other countries, therefore keeping overall emissions stable and, at the same time, seeing a slight rise in the price for CO2 allowances.

Overall, renewables are now better placed to prevent carbon emissions than nuclear, physicist Amory B. Lovins, adjunct professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University concludes in an op-ed for Bloomberg Law: “Renewables swelled supply and displaced carbon as much every 38 hours as nuclear did all year. As of early December, 2021’s score looks like nuclear –3 GW, renewables +290 GW. Game over.”……………..

How does Germany want to make net-zero happen without nuclear?

Germany’s energy transition in the electricity sector has turned into a comprehensive plan to decarbonise the entire economy and reach net-zero greenhouse gases in 2045. With nuclear power and coal out of the picture by the end of the decade, the new government – which is adhering to the previous government’s climate targets – is putting the focus on renewables growth. Its aim is to reach a share of 80 percent renewables in electricity demand (which is envisaged to grow). Several “Germany net-zero” studies have shown that a system based on renewables is possible……………………

What’s more expensive – renewables or nuclear?

One of the reasons why it is an obvious choice for Germany to make wind and solar its main power source rather than nuclear, is that new renewable installations have become cheaper than all other electricity sources – especially where a CO2 price is applied.

According to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2021 and Institute for Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut), the energy costs for nuclear power generation are currently 15.5 cents per kilowatt hour, compared to 4.9 cents for solar energy and 4.1 cents for wind power.

The British government has given a price guarantee of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour for 35 years to the nuclear power plant project Hinkley Point C. In Germany, feed-in tariffs for onshore wind and solar PV are between 6-7 ct/kwh or, in some tenders, even lowerOffshore wind parks are now being built without any government support.

New reactor projects often turn out to be much more expensive than envisaged. The costs for a new “Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR)“ in Flamanville, France, have risen from 3.4 billion to more than 19 billion euros, while the project will likely take at least 11 years longer than planned. Similar price hikes and delays have occurred in the UK, Finland and the U.S.

“Nuclear technology has had negative learning rates, which means that new projects became more expensive instead of cheaper. If we take current investment costs as a basis, then it is clear that the cheapest power system is one that is fully based on renewables,” Simon Müller said. The global market situation shows that renewables dominate investments. The 2050 long-term projections by the International Energy Agency (IEA) see nuclear energy supplying about 10 percent of electricity. “For the transformation, we need to thus look to renewables,” Müller said.

As many new nuclear projects also take considerably longer to construct than planned, the Öko-Institut concludes that it would also be faster to build a system based on renewables……….

December 30, 2021 Posted by | Germany, politics | Leave a comment

Germany’s Brokdorf nuclear station closes, so activists end their 35 year vigil against it.

Germany’s long anti-nuclear protest ends, DW, 29 Dec 21,

Activists have been protesting in front of the nuclear power plant in Brokdorf, northern Germany for 35 years. But now that the plant is set to be removed from the grid, their vigil is finally over………

Singing peace songs and chatting while standing in a circle, the groups appear well-adjusted to the freezing cold, having met at the power plant’s gate on the sixth day of each month for the last 35 years.

Today, the activists are once again holding a vigil to commemorate the victims of nuclear catastrophes while also demanding the shutdown of the nuclear reactor in their neighborhood.

Today is different, however. This 425th vigil will be the last. Later this month, the Brokdorf nuclear power plant will be shut down as part of Germany’s 2022 nuclear phaseout.

First nuclear reactor after Chernobyl

Amid the growing anti-nuclear movement in the 1980s, hundreds of thousands protested against the construction of the nuclear plant in Brokdorf.

Time and again, the protesters clashed with the police — especially after the nuclear accident in Chernobyl in 1986 saw increased radiation levels in soil and foods across Germany…..

Opening in late 1986, Brokdorf was the first nuclear reactor in the world to go into operation after the Chernobyl disaster.

At that time, Werner and a few allies protested peacefully and decided to continue their protests in the future. They vowed to meet once a month until Brokdorf was shut down…….

Increased cancer risk, and an ice rink

His fears weren’t unjustified. In 2008, a study found that children growing up in close proximity to a German nuclear power plant face a higher risk of developing leukemia.

Yet plants stayed open amid such health threats. One reason might be the decades of high revenues earned by the Brokdorf municipality through a commercial tax on the plant. Local politicians were loath to give up this income…….

Meanwhile, the nuclear power lobby is promoting nuclear energy as an allegedly clean and, most importantly, climate-friendly alternative………..   compared to power from wind and solar energy, the technology costs are much higher, and the construction of nuclear plants takes significantly longer.

Military motives

The fact that states still stick with nuclear power clearly also has another reason, said Andrew Stirling, professor of science and technology policy at the University of Sussex.

“Globally speaking, those countries that are the most truly dedicated to a civil use of nuclear energy either also have nuclear weapons or they are very keen on getting them,” he said.

According to Stirling, the civil use of nuclear energy is often needed for the realization of nuclear weapons programs, a point admitted by nuclear armed France and the US.

Without the engineers and specialists working in the commercial nuclear power sector, it would be impossible to build nuclear-powered submarines, for example, Stirling explained.

“The reports from the USA are absolutely clear. Even if the costs of nuclear energy were twice as high, it would still make sense for them to build reactors because this allows them to keep up their military activities,” he said……….

although Brokdorf will be removed from the grid on December 31, the plant will continue to serve as a temporary storage facility for nuclear waste for decades. There is still no final repository for radioactive waste.

“Therefore, our commitment is not yet over,” said one of the activists.

December 30, 2021 Posted by | decommission reactor, Germany | Leave a comment

Germany steadfast in rejecting nuclear power, aims for 100% renewables

 The Germans persist and sign against nuclear power and for renewables.
Across the Rhine, the debate pushed by France on nuclear power, presented
as “green” energy, is clearly not taking hold. The consensus remains
around the bet made by the new government that a direct switch to “all
renewable” is possible and will ultimately pay off much more, even if it
involves painful decisions.

 Mediapart 25th Dec 2021

December 27, 2021 Posted by | Germany, politics international, renewable | Leave a comment