by Katja Hoyer
Tuesday, 2
August 2022
Reaction
11:48

Germany (still) refuses to go nuclear

The country's energy policy is purely ideological
by Katja Hoyer
Anti-nuclear protestors in Berlin. Credit: Getty

As Germany stares down the barrel of an energy crisis, it’s lights out already in the capital. The Red City Hall, the presidential palace and the Victory Column are among the 200 sites in Berlin that will no longer be illuminated at night. The Deputy Governing Mayor, Bettina Jarasch, said her city wanted to make a “visible contribution” to the changes required in light of Putin’s weaponisation of Germany’s energy dependency.

But switching off 1,400 spotlights isn’t going to be enough to pull Germany back from the brink. Last week Russia cut gas deliveries through Nord Stream 1 down to 20% of capacity. Beginning this week, Germany will no longer import coal from Russia and from 1 January 2023 it will stop importing Russian oil too. Last year it still sourced 55% of its gas, 50% of its coal and a third of its oil from there. While much of the debate has concerned heat production, fossil fuels also still accounted for nearly half of electricity generation in 2021.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck has called on businesses and households to reduce energy consumption. The country’s largest landlord has already announced a cap on heating for its tenants. Public swimming pools have been closed. Over a fifth of Germans have reduced heating at home.

But it won’t be enough. The Federal Network Agency warns that “the situation is tense and a further worsening of the situation cannot be ruled out”. Germany will not get around replacing the huge loss of Russian imports. The government wants to produce 80% of electricity through renewables by 2030 and have two LNG terminals ready by the end of the year. Both are great ways to source green energy, but neither will help get Germany through the immediate crisis. Oil and domestic coal (including brown coal, the most polluting fuel of all) are stepping into the breach.

Despite the urgency of the situation and the catastrophic environmental consequences of a resurgence of brown coal, the government still resists a continuation of Germany’s remaining three nuclear power plants. They are due to be shut down by the end of the year despite producing 6.4% of electricity. In the early 2000s, Germany still produced nearly a third of its power in this comparatively clean and efficient way.

The nuclear debate has always been ideological. Chancellor Scholz claims that a continuation of the remaining three reactors is ‘impossible’ while Habeck argues that nuclear energy cannot replace gas since the former is used to produce electricity, the latter heat. Yet at the same time, 15.5% of electricity in Germany is currently produced by burning gas.

It’s high time that the German government abandons outdated objections to nuclear energy. Joachim Bühler, responsible for safety inspections in the country’s reactors has said that not only can the current three remain running safely but also that the three switched off last year could be reactivated. He told Habeck as much back in March. The six reactors produced over 12% of electricity last year and could therefore free up almost all of the gas currently used for this purpose for heating. Polls indicate that 70% of Germans would be happy with a continuation and even 54% of those who voted for Habeck’s Green party agree.

When Russia invaded Ukraine, Scholz declared this a Zeitenwende, a watershed moment. He should now follow these words with actions, as painful as it may be for the country’s centre-Left politicians to abandon their anti-nuclear traditions. Germany needs a radical rethink of its energy policy for its own sake — as well as Ukraine’s.

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Jasmine Bailey
Jasmine Bailey
1 month ago

Habeck argues that nuclear energy cannot replace gas since the former is used to produce electricity, the latter heat.

If only there was a way to generate heat from electricity…

Quite right that German anti-nuclearism is pure ideology. That was clear enough in 2011 when the Merkel government seized on the Fukushima disaster – a massive earthquake and tsunami that would never, ever occur in Germany – to announce the wind-up of the domestic nuclear industry.

R Wright
R Wright
1 month ago

I’m now well past the point where I believe this is purely a product of idiocy and now believe it is born of malevolence and purposeful policy.

Aaron James
Aaron James
1 month ago
Reply to  R Wright

The more you impoverish the working people the more they become wards of the State. You cannot have a Neo-Fudal state when the majority are self supporting, moral, hard working, productive, independent, White and Blue collar skilled workers who take care of themselves. You need everyone on some sort of Government dependent handout, and then they are all ‘Clients’ and will do as they are told. It is WEF 101.

David Mayes
David Mayes
1 month ago
Reply to  R Wright

The most likely explanation is that this policy is purposeful and opportunistic but not idiotic or intentionally malign. The crisis has presented the Green/SPD with the opportunity, nay righteous duty, to mandate degrowth – permanent reductions in domestic and industrial energy usage. Because in the environmentalist world-view Germans have for too long been profligate in their energy consumption and must become more frugal both to meet the IPCC “deadline” for emissions reduction and to recalibrate their way of living to the reduced levels of “natural” energy that renewables are capable of providing.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 month ago
Reply to  R Wright

It is hard to watch this and then see Holland and now Canada start attacking their agricultural sectors – without wondering if starving and freezing people isn’t the actual goal.

D Glover
D Glover
1 month ago

Over a fifth of Germans have reduced heating at home.

I’m surprised that any Germans are heating their homes in August.
Meanwhile in the UK we’ve just shut down Hinkley B after 46 years of successful operation. As its successor, Hinkley C, is nowhere near ready we will be making up the shortfall by buying and burning gas.

Last edited 1 month ago by D Glover
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 month ago
Reply to  D Glover

‘The government wants to produce 80% of electricity through renewables by 2030…’
And I want to play the piano like Alfred Brendl and go out with Leah Williamson.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 month ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Don’t forget we will all be in electric cars by then which will increase electric energy load dramatically. If we close our eyes, and tap our heels, and wish really hard – it will all come true. I just know it will!

Jerry Mee-Crowbin
Jerry Mee-Crowbin
1 month ago
Reply to  D Glover

Shutting down Hinkley B while C is yet to be completed conforms perfectly with British governments’ long term planning over many years. That is to say there is NO long term plan. And of course, the obvious solution staring each and every government in the UK as well as in Europe is FRACKING. But we mustn’t mention that, of course.

Martin Brumby
Martin Brumby
1 month ago
Reply to  D Glover

Well, maybe we can help out. For the last 5 years we have imported energy through the interconnectors, as much as we can, in order to try to compensate for the obvious deficiencies of weather dependent, thermodynamically incompetent Ruinables and keep the lights on.
We haven’t much cared if the energy was nuclear, coal fired or sunbeams extracted from cucumbers.
But, somehow, I have a nagging doubt that our former EU chums will find much available for us this Winter? Especially seeing how nicely they play with us.
So perhaps Trunak or Suss could stich up a deal that we’ll buy all the German nuclear they can produce, bearing in mind that Ed Davey saddled us with the most expensive, the least likely to work until 2027 (at best) and the most Chinese and French design he could find, for Hinkley?
You think the Germans will buy into that? Perhaps we could include a waiver that we would waive their liability if there were bad Tsunamis in the Bavarian Lakes?
Oh.
I thought not.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin Brumby

Between them Ed Davey and Ed Milliband did a great deal to destroy the meaningful production of energy in the UK, and to impoverish all but the very rich when it comes to paying for the energy still available to us.
Conclusive proof that two Eds are not better than one.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin Brumby

We’ll likely be exporting electricity through the interconnectors this winter as half the French nuclear fleet is under maintenance or repair.

Michael Askew
Michael Askew
1 month ago

Angela Merkel decided to scrap nuclear energy and rely instead on gas from Russia. What could possibly go wrong?

Aaron James
Aaron James
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Askew

Maybe nothing would have gone wrong if Biden and EU had not been messing in Ukraine for the last decade, and then sending them billions and Billions of weapons, and imposing the economic sanctions. (soon approaching $100,000,000,000, Then Zalensky says he will expect the West to pay $700,000,000,000 to rebuild – and that just to line criminal pockets, feed the Military Industrial Complex and Lobbyists, and flatten Ukraine, and then to do it again but rebuilding it. (and if 20% goes on the actual rebuild that would be about it)

If Russian had just gone in, killed or imprisoned the corrupt Oligarchs, taken their money and paower, given it to new Puppets, and marched out again as they were likely to do – Ukraine would be intact, the gas, wheat, fertilizer, oil, vital metals, all still flowing, a global starvation event greatly reduced, and the 4 Million vital woman and children not made refugees, the industry and infrastructure and buildings not destryoed, with the jobs and lives……

But no, Biden and his EU ilk decided they had to get in there and destroy Ukrane to the last Ukrainian to ‘save it for the West’, and so all have to live with the consequences.

It is rather like some WWI thing where the world went to war over Archduke Ferdinand assassination – only this world wrecking event was to save Zalenski and his Oligarchs from that. All for no good reason – mega disaster for who knows what hidden agenda – because this War of the West against Putin has done nothing but destroyed, and destroyed, and will destroy yet more millions – and for no good.

This is Afghanistan and Iraq all over again, but with much greater consequences – all for no good, but huge bad. Thanks Biden, great legacy you are leaving.

David McKee
David McKee
1 month ago
Reply to  Aaron James

Ah, yes. It’s all the fault of the West…
Can I be the first to claim that there is no such person as Aaron James, and the ‘Aaron James’ who posted this, is actually a Russian who works in a FSB troll factory?

Nick Dougan
Nick Dougan
1 month ago
Reply to  David McKee

Well I hope so David.

Alan Lucraft
Alan Lucraft
1 month ago

Merkel and the “greens” have a lot to answer for………

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 month ago

“ Over a fifth of Germans have reduced heating at home.”
In the middle of a heat wave ? that’s rather fitting.

Germans can thank……Mutti for this while she’s enjoying Wagner in Bayreuth !!
On the continuation of a pathetic note, Manuela Schwesig bordering corruption has found her new religion……let’s go nuke !!
What a change of tune, rather refreshing.
Instead of leading, Merkel accompanied German neurosis about just everything reaching from inflation to nuclear energy.
It is rather sad to see such a great country having accepted to be Putin’s puppet and what an historical irony to see a greenie vice chancellor trying to pick up the pieces of all this.
The answer to all this is :
Can we go 100 % nuke ? No……we still have to take Fukushima into account
Can we go 100 % green …….of course not ……Berlin, Hamburg or Frankfurt in winter will convince you why.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 month ago

For a nation that launched the idiotic ‘Kaiserschlact’ 17 days after the stunningly successful Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, and later so mismanaged Operation Barbarossa by lunging at Kiev that they ‘lost’ the war, is it really surprising that they have rejected Nuclear?’

R Wright
R Wright
1 month ago

In fairness Germany was already pretty much doomed by the time of Brest-Litovsk and a gamble like the Spring Offensive was all they could do to try to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 month ago
Reply to  R Wright

They should have gone of the defensive on the Western Front, and plundered the enormous Empire gained at Brest-Litovsk with the ‘help’ of the Jews, as outlined by Max Hoffman.
Ludendorff’s Kaiserschlact was hopelessly ‘underfunded’ as we now say

Last edited 1 month ago by stanhopecharles344
Martin Brumby
Martin Brumby
1 month ago

Help of which ‘Jews’??
Or, is this the usual anti-semitic bullshit?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin Brumby

If you had bothered to read Hoffman, which I very much doubt, you might understand.
Hoffman believed that to quickly access grain/food supplies from the recently conquered Ukrainian and Russian peasants it would be essentially to use local Jewish merchants, who would be far more efficient than the Commissariat of the German Army.
QED?

Jim R
Jim R
1 month ago

Winter is coming.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim R

“Winter is coming “ ; And there shall be “weeping and gnashing of teeth”!

James Stangl
James Stangl
1 month ago

Hope that the enlightened Germans enjoy a chilly winter.

Talk about cutting off one’s nose to spite your face.

David U
David U
1 month ago

The German Green Party was funded and directed from Moscow. Perhaps it still is.

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
1 month ago

Denying the vitally important place on nuclear in energy supply is truly wrongheaded but nuclear cannot bridge the gap in the near term. For that natural gas is by far the best option -Renewables have no chance of doing that – so why is Europe ( U.K. included) hostile to the exploration for and production of natural gas? Continental Europe has virtually stopped all exploration for hydrocarbons whilst U.K. creates extreme fiscal instability, it’s Regulator bans fracking and the majority of banks are reluctant to contemplate financing due to ESG pressures. To say that the vilification of both nuclear and natural gas is very silly is putting it very mildly.