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Germany Votes To Shutter Its Last Three Nuclear Plants, Favors Coal Instead

germany nuclear plant

Europe’s climate obsessions have led to an energy crisis, and who would have thought the Germans would choose to make it worse.

That’s what happened last Thursday when the Bundestag voted to shut down the country’s remaining nuclear power plants by the end of the year. [bold, links added]

Lawmakers, mainly from the Social Democratic and Green parties in the ruling coalition, nixed an effort to extend the lives of three nuclear reactors.

Those are the last three standing after former Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision in 2011 to phase out nuclear power.

Killing them has become an article of faith for Germany’s eco-left even as Ms. Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Party (CDU) has thought better of the policy after her retirement. The CDU sponsored the pro-nuclear resolution that was defeated 249-393.

This is the same Germany that’s in the grip of an energy crisis threatening to cripple Europe’s largest economy this winter.

The paramount challenge is replacing energy imports from Russia, which supplied more than half of the natural gas Germany consumed before Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Berlin is belatedly discovering that dependence on its own unreliable renewable energy and Russia for fossil fuels is a strategic vulnerability.

As if to emphasize the point, Nord Stream 1, Russia’s direct gas pipeline to Germany, shut down for “maintenance” on Monday, or so owner Gazprom says.

Nuclear power, which still accounts for 6% of German electricity, sure would help. The country needs alternative fuels for electricity generation to divert reduced gas supplies to industry. Germany will depend on natural gas for the foreseeable future for industrial uses.

Economy-and-Climate Minister Robert Habeck and his Green colleagues hope an accelerated build-out of renewables will do the trick, but those only work when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining.

The country also is far behind in building the transmission lines to carry this power from the places with the right weather to the spots with the factories and homes that need power.

Since gas is less available, renewables are less reliable, and nuclear remains undesirable, which leaves coal.

The same environmentalist lawmakers who eschewed nuclear last week gave their blessing to a ramp-up in coal-fired power production.

The hope may be that renewables (and the battery technology to make them suitable for an industrial economy) will develop quickly enough to make this a moot point soon. But that’s only a hope.

It’s more likely that coal will be needed for years as Berlin abandons the nuclear investment and know-how that could have served Germany for years to come.

The big lesson from this year’s energy crisis is that Europe’s vulnerabilities were a choice, not an inevitability. Rather than learning from that mistake, German politicians have chosen to repeat it.

h/t JK

Read more at WSJ

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