When the Greens go against green

by / Thursday, 02 June 2011 / Published in Smartgrid-CI Blog

A few days ago Germany’s Prime Minister Angela Merkel announced that her country will completely phase out nuclear energy by 2022. This decision has more to do with the recent electoral debacle Ms. Merkel party experienced in a local election that took place in the City State of Bremen than with a sudden passion for renewable energy. Ms. Merkel heavy defeat, her party was ranked third in electoral score behind the green party, bodes very bad for the near future of the Christian Democrats ; Germany has general parlementary elections scheduled in 2013. This defeat follows other set backs experienced in Mecklenburg-Pommern or in Bade Wurtenberg where a Green Prime Minister was recently elected.

What makes the Bremen electoral defeat different from the others  is that it is the first « post-Fukushima » defeat for Ms. Merkel and because of what happened in Japan she may think that things can only go worse. Phasing out nuclear energy for electoral purposes may make sense but does this decision make sense from an energy strategy point of view ? I am to so sure. First, for the time being, no other energy sources can provide so much energy for so little gas emission. This is one of the five reasons for not dumping nuclear Greenbang.com listed in a recent colum headlined :  « 5 reasons it’s nuts to dump nukes ». http://www.greenbang.com/5-reasons-its-nuts-to-dump-nukes_18289.html

These reasons are  that nuclear is a mature, safe and economical, low carbon emission, and available 24/7. Many would think that the challenge is worth a try because  nuclear power represents only 23% of German’s electricity generation and the country will not have too much trouble reaching this ambitious goal in 11 years only. But how good will really be this decision on the environment ?

This is a question the greens did not seem to ask themselves. Today, Germany generates 61% of its electricity from fossils sources (including nuclear). What will happen with this decision is that the Germans will replace a low gas emission energy from nuclear by renewable energy sources. The final result will be not have too much impact on their gas emission level. The most surprising is that Ms. Merkel’s government wants to implement this nuclear  phase out without compromising Germany’s low emission target. Too bad they do not tell us how they intend to do so and also how they intend to meet Germany ‘s growth in its energy demand. There are actually only two ways ; either use more fossil energy or import energy from the Czech Republic or more likely from France, and France generates 80% of its energy from….nuclear.

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