Germany Takes Flak For Nuclear Phase-Out

After the International Energy Agency in May issued a report decrying the weak support for nuclear power, a few notable voices, including two prominent Op-ed articles this week, have taken Germany to task for their retreat from nuclear power.

Germany, map of power plantsOne of those to speak up, noted an Op-ed piece in Bloomberg News, was the head of Volkswagen AG, Herbert Diess.

Diess criticized the government’s decision to close out coal for electricity generation by 2038, saying the policy would be “far too late,” for a retreat from the climate-changing impact of burning coal. Germany “should have quit coal first and then nuclear,” Diess said.

The article derided the Government’s support of electric cars, which are targeted to make up 40 percent of the country’s automobiles in the next 10 years. The point: If the electric cars all charge their batteries using electricity generated by coal, the pro-Earth policy would be all for naught.

Further support for nuclear power within German has include Wolfgang Reiotzle, the chairman of Continental AG, a car parts supply company, and Reinhold Wuerth, a billionaire industrialist, who called the fast retreat from nuclear power “a mistake.” A return to nuclear power in Germany was “an option” that should be considered, Wuerth indicated.

An Op-ed piece in The Washington Post reiterated the support for nuclear power in Germany, where 10 nuclear reactors have closed down due to the phase out, dropping nuclear power from 25 percent to 12 percent of the country’s electricity mix. There are currently seven nuclear reactors operating in Germany, down from a peak of 17.

The IEA report said electricity from nuclear power could drop by more than 60 percent by 2040 due to the aging of existing plants and imbalances in the energy market due to a glut of natural gas, which is undercutting prices resulting in unprofitable nuclear power plants.

Meanwhile, Charles Lane in The Washington Post wrote that a recent report from Germany’s Federal Court of Auditors also called into question Germany’s targets for wind and solar power. The country has spent $180 billion on alternative energy as part of its Energiewende (energy transition) plan, the a recent report from the auditors said. However, it has little to show for it, as Germany is expected to fall short on its emissions targets for 2020 (the goal: a 40 percent reduction compared to 1990 emissions), as carbon emissions are almost unchanged since the target was made public. The irony goes farther than nuclear power plants being traded in for coal plants, which now makes up 35 percent of Germany’s electricity mix.

More ironic than that: Carbon emissions, after stagnating for years, did fall 4 percent in 2018. But the reason for the decline: There was less demand for heating in the winter, due to global warming.

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