Berlin, Germany — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 13 June 2011 – The conservative German government has issued a 14-page document outlining how Germany can close all its reactors by 2017 and keep the lights on.
The report was released by the German Environment Agency (UBA).
The study found that Germany could close its reactors by 2017, much sooner than the government’s official proposal of 2022. Both the report, and the timing of its release, indicate the intense political debate within and outside the ruling coalition of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and her junior partner, the neo-liberal Free Democrats.
As noted by Craig Morris for Renewables International, the report was issued by an agency within the German Ministry of the Environment, but it was not commissioned by the Ministry itself. This subtlety would be lost on all but the most avid political junkies.
The Ministry is led by the up and coming conservative party member Norbert Röttgen, who distanced himself from the report but did not prevent its publication. The report will surely be used by the opposition parties in arguing that exit from nuclear can be quicker than the Merkel government is proposing.
Ironically, the conservative Merkel government has proposed the exit policy implemented by the previous red-green government of Social Democrats and the Greens. Merkel’s conservative party rose to power in part on a platform of extending the operation of the existing reactors. Her policy on extending the reactors’ operating lives was tabled shortly before the Fukushima accident. The policy reversal is historic not only in Germany, but worldwide.
The agency says that Germany can close the nuclear plants by faster development of its renewable sources of energy and the construction of 5,000MW of new gas-fired generation. The new gas-fired generation will give the grid the necessary flexibility to meet demand while also preserving Germany’s commitment to reducing its carbon dioxide emissions.