How will Germany exit nuclear without using more coal?
Within four decades, one of the world’s leading economies will be powered almost entirely by wind, solar, biomass, hydro, and geothermal power. But can Germany really achieve these targets without resorting to fossil fuels? Some of these questions were recently addressed in a joint article by Arne Jungjohann, Program Director for Environment and Global Dialogue with the Heinrich Böll Foundation and Wilson Rickerson, CEO of Meister Consultants Group. Some excerpts follow:
“The old nuclear power plants had been a bottleneck for greater investment. With the planned phase out of all nuclear power capacity, investors are lining up to put more renewable energy and high-efficiency natural gas plants in place. Overall, CO2 emissions will not rise as the energy sector has to comply with the European Emissions Trading System (ETS) and the associated emissions cap.”
Germany already had an aggressive renewable energy program in place. For example, “Germany has installed 17,000 MW of PV to date which amounts to more than half of the world’s total, including over 7,400 MW of new PV capacity in 2010 alone. . .The previous target of 30% renewable electricity by 2020 has recently been updated by Germany’s official National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP). The NREAP reveals that the country expects to actually generate 38% of its electricity from renewables by 2020.”
Germany also sees the transition to renewable energy as the most beneficial pathway economically. “As Germany’s Minister of Environment recently stated:
It is economically nonsensical to pursue two strategies at the same time, for both a centralized and a decentralized energy supply system, since both strategies would involve enormous investment requirements. I am convinced that the investment in renewable energies is the economically more promising project. . .
“Three cornerstones will play a crucial role in Germany’s energy transition: an even stronger growth of renewables; the ramp-up of smart grids, efficiency technologies, and battery and storage technologies; and temporary more flexible natural gas.” Read the full article for more information or visit the website of the Heinrich Böll Foundation.