Challenges Envisioning a Nuclear-Free Germany
Can Germany go Nuc Free? That’s the plan for 2022. But due to a phenomenon economists call “leakage,” a nuclear-free Germany may remain an illusion.
Bloomberg Businessweek reports that even though Germany plans to shut down its reactors, the country now pays $139 million monthly to import electricity, some of it from Czech nuclear plants:
With the remaining nine German reactors scheduled to go offline by 2022, no one seems more eager to step into the breach than the Czechs. They’re in talks with vendors to build two more reactors at Temelín, while planning new reactors at the aging Dukovany nuclear station and at least two other sites… “Nuclear is the answer,” says Roman Portužák, who is involved in drawing up the country’s energy strategy at the Czech Industry and Trade Ministry. “How fast, how many reactors we’ll build—that’s still under discussion, but we’re definitely moving in this direction.”
Germany also imports stored nuclear power via Austria. Indeed, building luxury cars is energy intensive.
Many Germans expect renewables such as solar and wind energy to take up the slack, but taxpayers are less keen about paying for them. Germany is in the process of slashing subsidies that have spurred renewable energy growth throughout the country.
Germany has also exported energy-intensive smelting and heavy industrial operations to China and other countries, which has gotten those energy inputs off Germany’s tally. But the resulting raw materials and components are then shipped back to Germany.
Germany’s awkward energy contortions point to the complex global challenges and fuzzy accounting that we face when developing energy policy in an interconnected world. Perhaps Germany can go low-energy only if others do not.
— Ozzie Zehner is the author of the renewable energy book, Green Illusions
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