Germany's aversion to nuclear power may run counter to its desire for both cheap electricity and security of supplies. It is set to replace half its ageing power stations (nuclear and conventional) over the next 15 years. Ms Merkel has presided over three “energy summits”, the last one in July, but there is still no clear idea of how to fill the gap left by the nuclear phase-out.In January, Deutsche Bank said phasing out nuclear was "inconceivable as a serious policy."
The environment ministry, created after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, has many ideas. Seeking to boost Germany's energy efficiency by 3% a year, it proposes offering tax incentives to modernise buildings and imposing road tolls not only on heavy vehicles but also on light trucks. It wants to tweak subsidies for renewable energy, which already cost consumers some €4 billion ($5.5 billion) a year. Solar energy (not much use in cloudy Germany) would get less, while offshore wind power would get more.
Only the most stubborn optimists think this will be enough. The efficiency target looks unrealistic. Renewable energy, which already generates an impressive 13% of German electricity, will grow either slowly or at great cost. That leaves unpleasant options. Gas is relatively clean, but it is expensive and its main supplier, Russia, has alarmed European countries by periodically choking off oil and gas supplies to those (such as Ukraine and Belarus) that fall out of favour.
In February, the CEO of Siemens called it, "environmentally unsound".
And in June, the IEA said that it was "without a doubt" that phasing out nuclear energy in Germany would limit its potential to reduce carbon emissions.
How many more times does it have to be said?