In announcing that it intends to close all nuclear power plants by 2022 , the German Government now faces a major challenge to find the energy to replace nuclear and meet its ambitious carbon emission targets at the same time . But Angela Merkel has been one of the rocks of European politics in the last 6 years. As Germany's first female Chancellor she has steered the country through interesting times .In 2008 she was also named by the Guardian as one of the people most likely to save the planet. She has a chance at a big play in that direction now that the country's nuclear stock is all disappearing.
The German Government " now aims to implement the Energy Strategy it adopted in late 2010 more swiftly and more rigorously than originally intended. Germany aims to enter the age of renewables as quickly as possible"
Speaking in Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel and three of her ministers presented in detail the steps that will be involved. No provision has been made for a way back.Angela Merkel, Federal Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen, Federal Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer and Federal Economics Minister Philipp Rösler presented the details of the government’s resolution.
"Germany can become an international pioneer, the first nation to manage to move away from traditional energy sources to renewables," the Chancellor declared, summing up the objectives of the strategy. To this end the German government has developed a strategy that will lead the country toward an independent, reliable, economical and environmentally sound energy supply.
A key part of the updated energy strategy is the date that has now been set for the end to the use of nuclear power. Step by step the German government intends to shut down all nuclear power stations in the country by 2022.
The resolution is absolutely clear. There is no loophole that would allow power stations to operate beyond this cut-off date in order to deliver agreed electricity quotas.
Those nuclear power plants that have already been shut down within the framework of the moratorium, including the Krümmel plant, will not be restarted. Only the three newest power plants Neckarwestheim 2, Isar 2 and Lingen will be permitted to operate until 2022.
But, says the German Government,safety considerations will be absolutely paramount when it comes to deciding whether a power plant may operate up to the cut-off point, said the Chancellor. The German government will conduct an annual planning control and will check whether or not targets have been achieved.
To ensure that power supplies are not jeopardised, the Federal Network Agency will provide all necessary information.
In their report on the impacts of the moratorium on nuclear power plants, the agency’s specialists pointed out that there could be energy shortfalls in Southern Germany in winter. Should their fears prove justified, the nuclear power stations that have already been closed down are to be a so-called cold reserve.
"This does not mean we are opening up a back door," underscored the Chancellor. The reserve is only to be available for a maximum of two years. The Federal Network Agency has been mandated to identify other solutions to potential shortfalls in winter. "It is our responsibility to ensure that Germany does not suffer any blackouts," said the Chancellor.
Parallel to the gradual departure from nuclear power, the percentage of energy generated from renewables is to rise consistently. The target is to raise the percentage from 17 percent today to 35 percent in 2020. For this to be achieved the new energies must be reliable and marketable.
"We need an entirely new architecture for our energy system and energy supply for the electricity of the future," underlined the Chancellor. Ensuring this is another elemental part of the resolution of the government.
The government has already finalised a bill to reform the Renewable Energies Law. The legislative procedure can now take its course.
Germany's 17 nuclear plants generated 140 terawatt-hours -22.5% -of its electricity last year.
140 terawatt-hours won't disappear in one go. Seven nuclear plants that were shut after the Fukushima disaster — and another, shutdown since 2009 — will not re-open. Those supplied around 50 terawatt-hours.
In the short term, Germany has ramped up spare capacity at existing coal-fired plants, and has also started importing electricity from France and central Europe
Germany has national targets to cut carbon emissions to 40% below 1990 levels for 2020. That means that by 2020 it needs to slash 70 million tonnes a year from its electricity sector's carbon emissions
Europe's carbon emissions from electricity are capped under the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). If Germany imports electricity from elsewhere — to avoid increasing domestic carbon emissions — then other countries will have to buy more ETS credits to emit carbon dioxide. Because the supply of these carbon credits is limited, their cost will be impacted and will rise. Electricity suppliers will charge their consumers more. The final result is that everyone will pay more for their electricity.
In Germany, consumers are likely to have to pay 1 or 1.5 Euro cents (1.5–2 US cents) more per kilowatt-hour of electricity — about a 5% increase on electricity bills
Ultimately, the effects of Germany's nuclear phase-out decision will spread around Europe. Germany's economy is the largest in Europe and Merkel is nothing if not influential. As the ripples from Fukushima start to be felt far and wise it will be interesting to see just how far its impacts are felt.
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