Shift of Mind

1 Jun

I think a great topic for this week’s blog post is Germany’s nuclear phaseout until 2022, as it is a major topic in the Germans’ and the EU members’ life and it will not only be a challenge to this country’s economy but also a task that demands a lot of technological progress and development in order to be achieved.

For everyone who happened to miss the news last night: Chancellor Merkel announced that the German government plans to fully abandon nuclear power within the next 11 years. She called it “a great challenge for Germany” but added this also means “huge opportunities for coming generations”. Norbert Roettgen, the environment minister, described it as follows: “This is coherent. It is clear. That’s why it is a good result.” It is a little strange if you compare this development to Merkel’s attitude to the phaseout two years ago and the extension of nuclear plants’ lifespans last year, but I will come back to that later.

The Details

As of March 2011, about a quarter of  the German electricity was generated in nuclear power plants, prior to the shutdown of the  seven oldest plants 4 days after the earthquake in Japan. The share of renewable energies is supposed to be increased from 1 7% now to 35 % in 2022 and then more or less cover the absence of nuclear energy.

Not fast enough

According to a research by Greenpeace, the total German nuclear phaseout could even be achieved by 2015. A post on the Greenpeace webpage criticizes the delayed the shutdown, but also “hailed the move as a very important step towards ending nuclear power globally” and you know if these guys judge your actions at least partly positively and even assign you “real vision and determination”, you know you did quite a good job.

Facing “all legal options”

Absolutely not happy about the current changes are the big German utilities.

According to an article by the business news provider Thomson Reuters, “an E.ON spokesman said shortening the lifespan of nuclear power plants and charging a tax on nuclear fuel was unlawful in itself and also violated European Union law that forbids discrimination against nuclear power”. A spokesman of RWE, another energy giant, threatened with “we will keep all our legal options open.”

The U- Turn

Although Merkel’s change of course is a great opportunity to philosophize about political opportunism nowadays, I will do not do so as I must pillory myself. Before the catastrophe in Japan, I was an advocate of nuclear power because I considered it cheap, efficient  and less polluting than e.g. energy generated by coal. Moreover, I could not imagine a second Tschernobyl to happen, especially not in a highly developed country like Germany.

This has fully changed. Now  I support the phaseout which should occur rather sooner than later. Hence, I regard this new policy as a necessary step in the right direction and I hope it serves as an incentive to e.g.  France and UK, which so far show no intention to conduct similar actions.  Keeping in mind that after the catastrophe in Tschernobyl, it is STILL not recommended to eat mushrooms from Bavarian forests, I do not want to imagine what results an accident in a plant in Germany or even a neighbour country would cause.

2 Responses to “Shift of Mind”

  1. kristinajo June 8, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    “Atomkraft-Nein danke!”

    Your really emphasized and structured your post in order to make the “shift of mind” clear to everyone reading your post. Well done!
    I also like the way you are describing your own shift in your opinion after the desaster in Fukoshima. I also have to admit that abandoning nuclear power was not that an important topic for me. If somebody asked me if I was against or supporting it I would have usually answered, with a rather tired voice:”against?”
    But now, after reading, talking and hearing a lot about it, I am 100 % supporting the “against!”.

    It was really nice reading your post!


  1. A Breath of Fresh Air for German Energy « FUTURIMA - June 8, 2011

    […] week, I presented Germany’s planned nuclear phaseout. As the German government intends to replace nuclear energy by energy from renewable sources, I […]

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