51% of the renewable energy on the German grid is put there by individuals (like us) and farmers. Individuals and private investors are contributing the equivalent generation capacity in renewables of20 nuclear power plants. None of it is state owned. More than one million Germans are involved as energy producers or investors in renewable energy production. According to Germany's environment ministry, "New ownership models such as citizens’ wind parks and energy cooperatives show that the Energiewende cannot only bring about environmental protection and economic growth, but also decentralized production structures in the hands of local initiatives.
Germany is the scene of some of the most vibrant and numerous anti-nuclear activities including protests of waste shipments and reactor relicensing. Although it is supposed to be phasing out nuclear plants, the Merkel government in 2010 agreed to modest license extensions for the country's 17 plants, prompting widespread protests.
The first in a six-part series from the HeinrichBöll Foundation, deals with the roots of nuclear energy's unpopularity in Germany. It begins:
"The fact that Germany, in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, redoubled its efforts to phase out nuclear energy has nothing to do with hysteria or postwar angst. on the contrary, a majority of Germans, including much of the political class, has been unconvinced of its merits since the early 1980s; the source of this anti- atom consensus lies not in emotional populism but rather in the persuasive, fact- based arguments of a powerful, grassroots social movement that has long included nuclear physicists and other bona fide experts." By Paul Hockenos. Read the full report here.
This paper is part one of a six-part series on the German Energy Transition. The authors are experts on different issues such as renewable energies, rural communities, social movements, and nuclear power.
Two giant German firms, E.On and RWE, are to pull out of building new nuclear power stations in the UK. It's the first fallout from the Japanese Fukushima disaster to hit Britain's nuclear industry, reports Channel 4 news. The joint venture run by the two firms, Horizon, was planning to build new nuclear plants at Wylfa on Anglesey, and Oldbury-on-Severn in Gloucestershire. The companies blamed the scarcity of capital in an economic crisis, the ‘significant ongoing costs’, and the fact that their home country has turned its back on nuclear power.
The suggestion made during the Frontline program that Germany will emit more Co2 as a result of its nuclear phase-out is another perfect example of those skeptics who claim that the German nuclear phase-out was a panicked overreaction and could even amount to environmental vandalism. But science disproves these claims. Thanks to Arne Jungjohann at the Heinrich Boell Institute for the following rebuttal:
Looking at the German nuclear phase-out, some have argued that Germany will produce an extra 300m tones of carbon dioxide between now and 2020. However, Numerous feasibility studies, amongst others by the Federal Environmental Agency or an independent Commission on Energy Choices , have shown that the nuclear phase-out will not jeopardize Germany's ambitious climate action efforts: reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2020 and by at least 80 percent by 2050. If emissions were to rise due to the nuclear phase-out, the government would have to come up with compensating measures to reach these targets.
However, it is unlikely that emissions will rise, because according to the rules of the EU cap-and-trade system there is a cap for emissions from the energy sector and that of course also applies for Germany. Even if Germany’s nuclear capacity was to be replaced by using energy generated in coal plants, the total energy emissions would still have to be reduced. This could be achieved by either shifting to more natural gas or by replacing older coal plants with new and more efficient plants. That's the genius of a cap-and-trade system. Believe it or not, with that system in place, Germany's nuclear phase-out will even cause emissions in other European countries to fall.
The German nuclear phase-out – which is being followed by other countries including Switzerland, Italy and Belgium – is in reality another important element to accelerate the long-term strategy of a transition towards a low-carbon economy.
In 2010, 51% of the more than 50,000 MW of renewable energy capacity in Germany was owned by farmers or individual citizens. This represents a staggering $100 billion in private investment. German farmers alone have installed 1,600 MW of biogas plants and 3,600 MW of solar photovoltaics (solar PV). For comparison, in 2010 there was only 60 MW of biogas plants and 2,200 MW of solar PV in the entire USA. Thanks to passage of the feed-in tarrif law, farmers, individuals and community groups could, for the first time install their own wind turbines and sell the resulting electricity for profit.