‘Japan crisis: Germany to speed up nuclear energy exit’ booms the BBC headline today as the anti nuclear onslaught continues following the multiple reactor crisis at Fukushima.
The story explains how German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced a ‘measured exit’ from nuclear power in response to the crisis affecting four reactors in Japan. Stating that the Japanese disaster meant it could no longer be ‘business as usual’ in Germany – a country renowned for its earthquakes and tsunamis - Merkel told the Bundestag that the goal was:
…to reach the age of renewable energy as soon as possible.
It is an interesting goal given the reality of Germany’s current energy generation strategem which was covered briefly on this blog back in January. For while Merkel tilts left in an attempt to appease the panicking nuclear-hating Greens, German energy policy shows a distinct lack of confidence in renewables to deliver the power needed in an industrialised country.
Just consider the extent of Germany’s new build coal fired power stations currently under construction, as detailed on EU Referendum, that shows that while Merkel is talking the talk on renewables she is not walking the walk:
- EVONIK, Walsum (Duisburg), 800 MW black coal (2010)
- RWE, Neurath (Cologne), 2 x 800 MW lignite (2009)
- RWE Westfalen (Dortmund-Hamm, 2 x 800 MW black coal (2011)
- EON Datteln (Dortmund), 1 x 1100 MW (!) black coal (2011)
- ENBW Karlsruhe, 1 x 800 MW black coal (2011)
- Trianel (municipality) Lünen, 1 x 800 MW black coal (2011)
- Vattenfall Moorburg (Hamburg), 2 x 800 MW black coal (2011)
- Vattenfall Boxberg (close to Leipzig), 1 x 800 MW lignite (2011)
The dates in brackets are the completion dates of the boilers (hydraulic testing and first fire).
While Germany’s significant investment in coal makes good sense Merkel’s pronouncement about a ‘measured exit’ from nuclear power is an example the worst kind of gesture politics.
It is worrying that a national leader resorts to disproportionate kneejerk policy borne of emotion rather than policy based on evidence. By seeking to play up renewables on the one hand and greenwash the mainstay of energy generation capability on the other, Merkel is demonstrating the kind of hypocrisy that characterises the political class.
Oh for a politician who will set aside spin and tell it like it is on wind power. Wind is not the panacea portrayed by the wind lobby and greenies, it remains a poor value and unreliable form of generation and only benefits the recipients of the lavish subsidies that look all the more disgraceful on those days when energy is needed but the turbines have no wind to turn them.