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Putin Makes Germany Question Move Off Nuclear

From the Associated Press:

Ukraine spotlights Germany’s nuclear power switch

By GEIR MOULSON | March 27, 2014

BERLIN (AP) — The crisis in Ukraine has added an extra dose of uncertainty to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s biggest domestic project: shifting the country from nuclear to renewable energy sources.

Even though nuclear energy is about as environmentally friendly as you can get. (Especially, with the latest technology.) In fact, some even claim that Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet invented the fear of ‘man-made global warming’ in order to push for using more nuclear energy.

Merkel launched the drive to transition the country away from nuclear after Japan’s 2011 Fukushima disaster. Since then, the "Energiewende" — roughly, "energy turnaround" — has created increasing headaches.

That’s funny. We have never heard about those headaches before.

Now, the tensions with Russia could complicate the plans further. The problem… Germany gets about a third of its natural gas and crude oil from Russia.

Merkel is still pushing ahead with the plan to shift away from nuclear energy. But if the situation with Russia escalates and Germany decides to try and reduce its reliance on Russian gas, there could be problems staying on track.

After all, carbon emission are a far bigger threat to national security than Russia.

[R]eadying Europe’s largest economy to switch power sources has proven complicated and, at least until Merkel’s new "grand coalition" of right and left took office in December, a recipe for political gridlock.

Germany’s coast and flat northern plains offer plentiful wind power, but planning the ugly lines to get that electricity to the southern industrial heartland is hitting resistance. A subsidy system meant to build up renewable energies is causing mounting problems

Plus, it’s expensive as hölle.

Merkel’s ambitious plan is for renewable energies including wind and sun to make up 40-45 percent of Germany’s energy mix by 2025, compared with just under a quarter now, and 55-60 percent by 2035.

Critics say it’s not green enough, though: coal and lignite — decried as dirty by environmentalists — accounted for 45.5 percent of Germany’s energy output last year, up from 44 percent in 2012, as nuclear energy dropped to about 15 percent from more than 20 percent at the time of Fukushima.

"The current path of the Energiewende is neither competitive nor low-carbon," Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of the research and analysis group IHS, said recently. "Costs are rising. And so are CO2 emissions, with coal’s renaissance in the fuel mix to replace nuclear and balance out the renewables."

So why do it? Why not stick with what works?

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Friday, March 28th, 2014. Comments are currently closed.

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