2011-06-12 09:41:54German Energy Priorities
Dana Nuccitelli

A post on Germany's decision to phase-out nuclear power in the next decade:

German Energy Priorities

2011-06-12 17:26:03


Thanks, Dana!

The only thing which should perhaps be pointed out as well is, that the German government is now basically following what most Germans want them to do (be they right or wrong): phasing out nuclear power as fast as possible. There was quite the uproar in Germany end of 2010 when the government - more likely than not on the behest of the nuclear power lobby - prolonged the lifespan of most nuclear reactors by many years. And, they even tried to sell that as "a big energy revolution", using nuclear power as a "bridge" until renewables can take up the slack. Most people didn't buy that as it was clear that the prolonging would mainly fill the pockets of our four major energy providers and keep nuclear "cheaper" than renewables for many years. Funnily enough, Merkel is now using almost the same wording (big energy revolution) for the nuclear-phase-out....

About solar capacity: could it make sense to add a link to "PV electricity produced in Germany" which shows up to date information of how many GWs from solar photovoltaics are entering the German grid? Joe Romm featured this website a couple of weeks ago.

I searched for some more studies and found this - the English version is abbreviated, however:

Öko-Institut Freiburg (Institute for Applied Ecology)


2011-06-12 21:06:43


@Dana and Baerbel:

I am a bit skeptical about this post. The decision to phaseout nuclear was already made by chancellor Schroeder in the year 2000. Thus Merkels decision is more or less a return to the old phaseout plan. That is the reason why I don't think that the 40% taget to 2020 is in danger because - as far as I now - this target was set up in 2007 (when the old phaseout plan was valid):

Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel described the adoption of the key items as a turning point in climate protection policy. "With the 30 concrete individual measures in the package we are starting out on a road which will bring us to our climate protection goal. We will reduce our CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990. Germany thus retains its position as pioneer in international climate protection."

Further you assume that the share of fossil fuels will increase. But do you consider that many coal fired power plants in germany are old and have to be switched off anyway? To build 10 or 20 GW therefore does not necessarily mean that the share of coal and other fossil fuels will rise. According to the "Leitstudie 2010" scenario A (nuclear phaseout to ~ 2022) the capacity of coal fired plants will decrease from 51,1 GW in 2010 to 42,9 GW in 2020 (page 37) and total greenhouse gas emissions will decrease from 893 million tons per year to 710 millions tons (page 36)!

Finally you should note that the emissions are capped in the european union:

"CO2 emissions would rise only in the short term under a phase-out of nuclear power by 2020 instead of 2022. A complete phase-out by 2015, however, would push up CO2 emissions considerably, according to the researchers’ calculations. The emissions would be 64 million tonnes higher than in the case of exiting in 2020 or 2022, increasing Germany’s total CO2 emissions from power generation by one quarter in 2015. The additional emissions could be decreased by 20 percent if more power plants were deployed fired with gas instead of coal. Climate change mitigation would not be affected, contrary to some widespread beliefs. There is a cap for European greenhouse gas emissions. When one country increases its emissions, they have to be reduced somewhere else."



2011-06-12 21:46:47


Thanks MartinS!

From the link to the "Leitstudie 2010" (which doesn't seem to be available in English), I found some more information, like this "At a glance" document which has many charts:

And the complete presentation as a PDF:

(As an aside: the website is managed by the German ministry for the environment, natur conservation and nuclear safety, so is as official as it can be)

I don't know, but perhaps a clear(er) distinction needs to be made that phasing out nuclear power by about 2021 can be manageable from a CO2-emission-perspective, but anything earlier than that (as some here in Germany still want to achieve) is not really advisable?

2011-06-12 23:38:28


Baerbel, not the whole Leitstudie 2010 is availabel in english, but a summary (pages 30 - 60). A phaseout earlier than 2022 would cause a short CO2 increase but to ~2025 the emissions are according to the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research again on a very similar level (source, see "Abbildung 8" with different paths)

2011-06-13 03:33:24
Dana Nuccitelli

Thanks Martin and Baerbel.  I'll have to read your sources and then do a considerable revision, from the sound of it.  I probably won't be able to get to it until later in the week, but no rush, since this post won't be published until next weekend at the earliest, I think.

2011-06-17 10:38:01
Andy S


Extended subsidies for German coal mines

Via Mark Lynas's blog, which may not be everyone's favourite haunt at the moment. He has some scathing comments on the costs of PV in Germany and opposition to CCS from Greenpeace. I've no idea if any of this is true.

There's also some gratuitous snark about organic farming, GMO's and  Chernobyl. It seems that anything that draws attention is good when you have a new book coming out.

2011-06-29 07:52:53
Dana Nuccitelli

Okay, I updated the post to reflect Martin's points.  Have another look.

2011-06-29 09:00:35



What's CCS?

Too many TLAs is not helpful.

2011-06-29 12:22:14
Dana Nuccitelli

CCS = carbon capture and storage