Germany’s Nuclear Phase Out

May 31, 2011

Germany announced yesterday plans to phase out nuclear by 2022. German Environment Minister
Norbert Röttgen said:

“It’s definite: the latest end of the last three nuclear power plants is 2022. There will be no clause for revision.”

While we can’t comment on the specifics of Germany’s most recent decision (Germany has changed its nuclear policy three times in 15 years), the Canadian industry is watching international developments with great interest.

One thing is clear – 23% of Germany’s electricity will have to be replaced with another source.

According to this Reuters article, cutting nuclear in Germany will add 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year. One analyst says:

“We will see a pick-up in German coal burn. Longer term, they will be using more renewables and gas but this year and next, we should see a lot of support for coal burn.”

This hardly seems like a victory worth celebrating, as many German anti-nukes are, especially considering the how damaging the burning of fossil fuels, like coal, is. But as Bill Gates said recently,

“Coal kills fewer people at one time, which is highly preferred by politicians.”

Here in Canada, nuclear has been a pillar of our electricity system for more than 50 years – and let’s not forget all of the products and services that nuclear medicine and R&D has contributed to all Canadians, plus the highly-skilled jobs that come out of those sectors. Nuclear also contributes to safety and research in other major sectors, such as our auto and aerospace industries. Nuclear is also one of the most cost-effective of the large-scale energies and, aside from hydro, no other source of energy can produce so much clean, baseload power at such sustained levels as nuclear.

Yeah, we’re pretty sure that support for nuclear energy in Canada will continue for a long time.

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