Germany to Close Last Nuclear Power Plant in Ten Years

German Government Cabinet Decision (6/6/11)

Energy Efficiency, Super Grid, 35 % Renewables by 2020

Germany is going to make it to the age of renewables and will be ending its use of nuclear power in 10 years. The decisions made by the Cabinet on June 6 have set the wheels in motion.

No later than the end of 2022 the last German nuclear power plant is to be closed down. The government is proposing to the parliament a clear and legally binding decision, with a precise step-by-step plan.

The seven nuclear power plants closed down after the disaster in Japan and the Krümmel nuclear power plant will remain closed. By the end of 2015 they will be joined by Grafenrheinfeld nuclear power plant. By the end of 2017 Gundremmingen B too will be shut down and by the end of 2019 Philippsburg 2. No later than the end of 2021 Grohnde, Gundremmingen C and Brokdorf will close their doors and the three youngest plants Isar 2, Emsland and Neckarwestheim 2 will cease operating no later than the end of 2022.

With its Energy Strategy the German government is ensuring that energy supplies will not be interrupted, that the cost of power does not become prohibitive, that Germany remains an attractive place to do business, and that we meet our climate change mitigation targets.

Boosting energy efficiency is key to this, by using modern technologies to reduce electricity consumption or by refitting our buildings, which in any case raises their value. The aim is to make Germany one of the world’s most energy-efficient economies while retaining a high level of prosperity. Germany has the chance to become the first major industrialised country to have a highly efficient energy system, based on the use of renewables. We can become a pioneer and an example for the rest of the world, demonstrating how a sustainable shift to renewables can be managed while remaining economically successful. This way forward into a future that will not leave any further negative ecological legacy, and that does not involve any dependence on expensive imported energy opens up excellent new prospects for Germany, in terms of exports, jobs and growth.

Wind Power and Solar Power Expansion

Even without nuclear power we are sticking to our target of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by 40 percent by 2020 and by at least 80 percent by 2050 (taking 1990 as a base year). By 2020 power generated from solar power, wind power and other renewable sources is to account for a minimum of 35 percent of the total. Today they account for 17 percent.

The Renewable Energies Act remains the most important instrument for expanding the use of renewable energies. Wind power plays a central part. The German government aims to push ahead with harnessing wind power on land. Older turbines are to be replaced with more modern ones with a higher performance which makes them more environmentally friendly. Offshore plants in the North and Baltic Seas are to play an increasingly important role too. Hydro-power, photovoltaic systems, geothermal power and power generated from biomass round off the picture.

The amount paid by every electricity consumer to subsidise renewable energies is to remain unchanged at around 3.5 cent per KWh. Amounts paid for electricity generated from biomass will be reduced.  The German government also intends to support producers of electricity from renewable sources who do not pass this power on to network utilities, as is currently the case, but market it directly.

Germany will achieve its targets for expanding the use of renewables if plants can be planned and permits issued swiftly and without excessive red tape. The new Planning Acceleration Act will make it easier to build solar plants beside and on buildings.

If we close down nuclear power stations, other fuels will have to fill the gap in order to ensure the stability of the power network in the long term and to balance fluctuations in power generation. Importing nuclear power is not a viable option.

By 2013 new highly efficient gas- and coal-fired power stations that are already under construction should go online with a combined capacity of some 10 GW. By 2020 we will need the same again. A new Power Station Promotion Programme for small and medium-sized power generators will also help ensure secure supplies. The German government also intends to improve its promotion of combined heat and power units and continue this beyond 2016.

50 Reduction of Primary Energy Through Energy Efficiency

By 2050 we intend to cut our demand for primary energy sources by 50 percent. This will only be possible if we achieve massive energy savings and boost energy efficiency across the board.

40 percent of energy in Germany is used in the residential sector. The power used to heat our housing stock is to be cut by 20 percent by 2020. By 2050 buildings in Germany are to be practically climate-neutral, i.e. all the energy they need will be generated from renewable sources.

Today the German government already supports property owners and people building new properties to improve energy efficiency. To double the rate of efficiency measures, the government will top up the KfW’s Building Renovation Programme to 1.5 billion euros.  Energy modernisation measures are to be made partially tax-deductible (10 percent) to make them even more attractive.

The German government will make high energy efficiency criteria binding for new government facilities. Contracts will go only to contractors offering the highest possible efficiency category for goods and services.

Inefficient appliances must be taken off the market more rapidly, and highly efficient ones introduced more swiftly. Consumers must be able to see more easily how much energy each product consumes. The German government will be pushing for ambitious European standards for energy-consuming appliances.

6 Million Electric cars

By 2020 a minimum of one million electric cars are to be on German roads, and this figure is to rise to six million by 2030. Germany, the nation of car-lovers, is to become the leading producer of electric vehicles and the leading market for these. To this end the German government will double the funds it makes available for research and development to almost two billion euros by 2013. Anybody buying an electric vehicle is to enjoy several advantages: no vehicle tax for ten years, designated electric vehicle parking spaces with charging stations and permission to use bus lanes.

Super Grid, Smart Grid, Storage

Today, Germany’s electricity networks are not yet geared to the transport of power generated from renewables. The Network Expansion Acceleration Act will make it possible to lay new high-voltage lines more quickly, also across state boundaries. This will foster north-south transport, for instance. An amendment to the Energy Management Act will strengthen the foundations on which to build intelligent networks and storage systems, by improving the conditions for intelligent electricity meters, to give but one example.

Wind power and solar power and not constant sources of energy. If we are to guarantee reliable supplies we must be able to “park” power until it is needed. Modern storage options make this possible.  The federal government will be providing a total of up to 200 million euros for research and development in this field for an initial phase, scheduled to run until 2014.

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About Author: John Addison

Founder of the Clean Fleet Report, author of Save Gas, Save the Planet. John writes about electric cars, renewable energy, and sustainability. (c) Copyright John Addison. Permission to repost up to a 200 word summary if a link is included to the original article at Clean Fleet Report.

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