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Germany's nuclear U-turn may well empower France

Ms Merkel's move is surprising for several reasons. First, there seems little logical explanation for such a sudden about-turn except for populist politics. Second, it is obvious that there has been no reflection on what this all means for Germany's longer-term prospects. It is easy to announce a doubling of renewable energy and claim that this will put you at the forefront of the green revolution. But in practice, getting there will be expensive, fraught with risk and highly uncertain.

Experts generally concur that this great drive towards renewables will push up costs for business given that renewables are not yet using mainstream technology. Consumers too are bound to see sharp increases in their energy bills as Germany is forced to import ever more electricity from its French neighbour while it waits for its green revolution to take hold. Already in April alone, Germany imported 43 per cent more electricity from France at an additional cost of about €60m ($86.6m), according to French officials.

Let me see if I get this right (and not even commenting on the underlying facts): nuclear power is cheaper, but importing nuclear power from France has increased the bill for Germany? That's... strange.

And let's see:

  • Germany never had a big debate about ending nuclear power (oh, wait, it was the country's policy until the conservatives reversed it just a few months ago),

  • they haven't been ramping up renewables on a large scale (oh, wait, close to 50% of the system capacity - if not quite yet production - is from renewables, up from very little only 15 years ago)

  • they haven't chosen a clear path towards renewable energy (oh wait, the new Energiekonzept actually happened before Fukushima!)

  • renewables are definitely not mainstream (oh wait, Europe has been installing more wind than gas-fired capacity almost every years of the past 5, and solar is following, and Germany is the undisputed leader for both)

  • renewables are horribly expensive, as all serious people know (oh, wait, thanks to the merit-order effect, wind actually brings prices down!)


Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 2nd, 2011 at 05:56:10 PM EST

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