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Germany and Czech Republic Taking Different Paths with Nuclear Power

Posted by Steve Markowitz on October 26, 2011

Earlier this year Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Germany’s intention to shut down all of its nuclear power plants by 2022.  This includes all it was 17 nuclear plants.  Prior to closing some of its older plants, 25% of Germany’s electricity was generated by nuclear power.

Germany’s announcement is in response to Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster earlier this year. Merkel indicated that Germany plans to replace its nuclear power with renewable energy sources including solar, wind and hydroelectric power stating: “We believe that we can show those countries who decide to abandon nuclear power –  or not to start using it – how it is possible to achieve growth, creating jobs and economic prosperity while shifting the energy supply toward renewable energies“.  However, admirable this goal may be, current technological and practical limitations make its feasibility in the foreseeable future unlikely.

Some European countries are taking a similar view of nuclear power as Germany.  For example Switzerland, who obtains 40% of its electric power from nuclear energy, announced last week will shut down all of its reactors by 2034.  Europe is already up to his eyeballs in debt.  Significantly increasing the cost of electricity, as these anti-nuclear policies will do, will make their significant financial problems even worse

However, other European countries have taken a more pragmatic view of nuclear power with Sweden criticized Merkel’s decision rightfully stating that it will drive up electricity prices throughout Europe.  France, who produces 80% of its electricity through nuclear power said after the German announcement that “there’s no way” for Europe to meet its CO2 emission-cutting targets without nuclear power.

Even more pragmatic is the Czech Republic who sees opportunity in Germany’s decision to stop producing electricity via nuclear power.  This week it announced an ambitious energy program that includes spending $25 billion to build five new nuclear reactors by 2025.  This will not only increase Czech’s electric generated via nuclear power from its 30% to 50%, but will also allow the Czech Republic to export power to other European countries including Germany.

At the same time Merkel announced the nuclear power plant shutdown she said: “We don’t only want to renounce nuclear energy by 2022, we also want to reduce our CO2 emissions by 40 percent and double our share of renewable energies, from about 17 percent today to then 35 percent“.  This goal will be hindered by the nuclear power plants’ shutdown.

While Ms. Merkel holds a Ph.D. in physics, she is first and foremost a politician.  She, like many other Progressive politicians, are beholding to the radical environmentalists who are against nuclear power, drilling for oil or natural gas, or spewing more carbon in the atmosphere.  The policies emanating from this radical movement will make it impossible for Europe to continue its current standard of living, irrespective of any resolution of its current financial crisis.  Should the environmentalists continue having their way, Europe need not worry about global warming, but instead many cold winters to come.


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