Sunday, 18 September 2011

Welcome to the Brave New World of German Energy Policy!

Germany is now importing electricity from the Czech Republic and France. Picture shows the cooling towers at the Temelin NPP close to Bavaria.

The party seems to be over for Germany. The Paris based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) believes the country is headed toward an economic downturn. The economic growth has almost stopped, much as a consequence of the Merkel government´s nuclear phase out decision. Germany now has to import expensive nuclear and coal energy from neighbouring countries. And its getting worse. The German consumers are in for an unpleasant surprise next year:

Germany's decision to phase out its nuclear power plants by 2022 has rapidly transformed it from power exporter to importer. Despite Berlin's pledge to move away from nuclear, the country is now merely buying atomic energy from neighbors like the Czech Republic and France.
The German government's 180-degree turn in nuclear policy has helped breathe new life into Europe's energy industry -- though not always to Germany's benefit. The country has gone from being an energy exporter to an energy importer practically overnight, which brings along with it a number of negative consequences for its economy, consumers and security.
The country's economy is still growing, but only barely. In the second quarter of 2011, Germany's gross domestic product was just 0.1 percent higher than it was the previous quarter.
The Federal Statistical Office believes the nuclear phase-out has helped cause this anemic growth. "Electricity has increasingly had to be imported in order to satisfy demand," the organization explains.
This has noticeably weakened Germany's economic strength. In fact, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) even believes the country is headed toward an economic downturn. Last Thursday, OECD chief economist Pier Carlo Padoan said that one of its causes will have been the "uncertain consequences of the nuclear phase-out."
In recent months, the Leipzig-based European Energy Exchange has monitored an increase in electricity prices in Germany of around 10 percent. "Prices are already at an alarmingly high level," warns European Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger of Germany.
Still, most consumers have yet to notice anything in the way of price increases. That unpleasant surprise won't come until the next fiscal year, when one leading executive in the energy industry predicts most households can expect to pay significantly more than they have been due to higher fees.
The computer system also indicates the sources from which electricity flows into Europe's pipelines. A thick arrow is constantly pointing from France to Germany. Since France hardly has any other energy sources, this electricity obviously comes from nuclear power plants.
Another thick arrow is coming from the Czech Republic, and it mostly represents electricity from the nuclear power plant in Temelin. Even Poland has an arrow pointing toward Germany now, though this one primarily represents electricity generated from brown coal in Europe's dirtiest CO2-belching facilities

Read the entire article here

The downturn in the German economy happens at the same time when the country is expected to make even bigger contributions in order to help bankrupt Greece stay in the crisis ridden eurozone. No wonder that opposition against Merkel´s policy is growing among her coalition partners, and even in her own party.
And few people think that windmills and solar panels will be the answer to Germany´s growing energy problems.


A K Haart said...

There is a tragedy in the making here because Germany has the engineering culture to take nuclear technology forwards.

NNoN said...

Yes, it is sad indeed, that e.g. Siemens now has decided close down its nuclear power activities.