Germany Flicks The Nuke Switch — And Europe Pays
The German nuclear phase out is going to cost European states billions in energy costs. Experts say it may also set off an environmental boomerang.
BERLIN – After the immediate political and diplomatic fallout, experts have begun to calculate the potential economic – and environmental -- costs of Germany's decision last month to shutter all of its nuclear power plants by 2034. What is certain is that the price will be paid across Europe.
After the German government made the decision to phase out nuclear energy without consulting its EU partners, France's Energy and Industry Minister Eric Besson used twitter to declare that: ‘"Germany may be a sovereign state, but the effects of the decision are European.""
The decision impacts both available energy supply and energy prices in neighboring countries. After the eight oldest German reactors were switched off in the immediate aftermath of Japan's Fukushima disaster, the wholesale price of electrical current went up by 10%, or 5 euros per megawatt hour.
According to some estimates, the increase in the cost of energy for European consumers could end up reaching 40 billion euros.
Another concern raised by both German and other European politicians and experts is that with Germany's transition away from nuclear, the push for clean, renewable energies may also be accompanied by a return to conventional sources such as gas and coal.
Some experts estimate that such a shift could mean a release into the air of an additional 30 million tons of CO2 annually. Quotations for EU emissions certificates rose by 1.5 euros per ton, or about 10%, the day that Germany shut down the first eight reactors. The rise in carbon emissions would also mean a steep rise in the cost of meeting set climate protection targets for both Germany and its neighbors. Increased costs EU-wide for climate protection could run between 4.5 and 7.5 billion euros annually.
Read full article in German by S. Bolzen, D. Wetzel with G. Wüpper
photo - LHoon