Skip to main content

Germany's Moratorium on Nuclear Energy Pushes Up Electricity Prices

The moratorium on nuclear power announced last month by German Chancellor Angela Merkel shortly after the accident at Fukushima Daiichi already is driving up energy prices and raising concern about the reliability of the nation’s electricity supply, according to Bloomberg News. Nuclear energy supplies about one-quarter of the nation’s electricity. Natural gas from Russia is seen as the logical replacement, should Germany follow through on closing out its nuclear plants. The country already imports one-third of its natural gas from Russia.
Merkel’s pledge to speed the exit from atomic power after the crisis in Japan is helping push natural-gas prices higher as Germany scrambles to identify energy alternatives. Gas supplied by [Russia's] OAO Gazprom may be the easiest way for her to meet Germany’s climate goals and keep Europe’s largest economy running.
The statements from Merkel represent a turnabout, which may relate more to politics than issues related to nuclear safety:
Pressured by a regional election loss amid a surge in support for the Greens, Merkel ... said on March 28 that her "view on nuclear energy has changed.” The result is “a nuclear witch-hunt” that may result in more than seven reactor closures, said Lueder Schumacher, an analyst at UniCredit SpA in London. “So far the public debate in Germany has focused on the desire to exit nuclear energy with little thought being spared as to what is actually going to replace it.”
It didn't take long for the policy shift on nuclear energy to affect energy prices:
German power for next year has risen about 10 percent since Merkel’s announcement, reaching its highest price in more than 19 months on April 4. ...Gas for delivery in 2013 cost 7 percent more at the Dutch-based Endex TTF gas exchange yesterday.
One German utility, RWE AG, has filed a lawsuit challenging the shutdown of its Biblis A nuclear plant. The company's chief executive officer said power shortages may be looming. Two days after his company filed suit:
Juergen Grossmann warned ... of “more frequent power outages, say two, three days a year.”
The CEO also expressed concern that “some of the industrial foundation of our country will be lost.” Merkel is scheduled to discuss Germany's energy policy at meeting April 15 with the nation's 16 state prime ministers.

Meanwhile, Germany is supplementing its electricity supply with increased imports from neighboring countries that rely on nuclear energy. According to the German Association of Energy and Water Industries, Germany doubled its imports of electricity from France in the second half of March and currently imports the capacity equivalent of 1.5 reactors from France and the Czech Republic every day.
ENTSO-E, the Brussels-based group overseeing Europe's electricity grid and tracking cross-border flows, confirmed that Germany turned from exporting to importing electricity toward the end of March.

Comments

jimwg said…
Such a stupid knee-jerk PC reaction from a completely unrelated incident.

James Greenidge

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear Is a Long-Term Investment for Ohio that Will Pay Big

With 50 different state legislative calendars, more than half of them adjourn by June, and those still in session throughout the year usually take a recess in the summer. So springtime is prime time for state legislative activity. In the next few weeks, legislatures are hosting hearings and calling for votes on bills that have been battered back and forth in the capital halls.

On Tuesday, The Ohio Public Utilities Committee hosted its third round of hearings on the Zero Emissions Nuclear Resources Program, House Bill 178, and NEI’s Maria Korsnick testified before a jam-packed room of legislators.


Washingtonians parachuting into state debates can be a tricky platform, but in this case, Maria’s remarks provided national perspective that put the Ohio conundrum into context. At the heart of this debate is the impact nuclear plants have on local jobs and the local economy, and that nuclear assets should be viewed as “long-term investments” for the state. Of course, clean air and electrons …