World Germany faces tough questions as nuclear exit nears

09:23  05 march  2021
09:23  05 march  2021 Source:   afp.com

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German town faces challenges after nuclear exit . The debate around who will pay the final bills also remains contentious, with companies hoping to pass costs along to the state, posing a financial risk to the government and taxpayers. Questions also remain open concerning where the spent fuel rods and other leftover radioactive material will be stored.

The dismantling of Germany 's nuclear power plants will be one of the greatest tasks of the century as the country moves to phase out atomic energy. It will take at least until 2080 to complete the job. For a long time, the salt dome in Gorleben in the western state of Lower Saxony was designated for this purpose, but that controversial plan has been scrapped and the search must now begin anew. The Konrad mining shaft, an old iron ore mine near the central German town of Salzgitter in the same state, has been selected for storage of low to medium-level radioactive rubble from decommissioned reactors and is

The Bavarian village of Gundremmingen is so proud of its nuclear power station that its coat of arms is graced with a giant golden atom.

a large building with a grassy field: Change is coming to the German village of Gundremmingen, with the local nuclear plant facing imminent closure under Germany's energy transition policy © Christof STACHE Change is coming to the German village of Gundremmingen, with the local nuclear plant facing imminent closure under Germany's energy transition policy

But change is coming to the village, with the plant facing imminent closure under Germany's energy transition policy.

Former village mayor Wolfgang Mayer's house has direct views of the imposing complex with its two 160-metre cooling towers -- taller than the spires of Cologne Cathedral.

The plant still produces 10 billion kWh of power per year, though parts of it have already been shut down -- enough to provide the entire Munich metropolitan region with electricity.

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When Germany decided to turn its back on nuclear power five years ago after the Fukushima meltdown, everything changed for those who depended on the plants.

BERLIN— Germany is set to accelerate its shift from nuclear power to renewable energy and increased energy efficiency, according to a draft plan by the environment and economy ministries. The report, which could act as the basis for new legislation this year, marks a significant shift as Germany ceases to debate whether to phase out its reactors and focuses more on how quickly and at Germany 's reversal in energy policy in the wake of the Japan earthquakes was the sharpest among major world economies. and now faces new budget strains as investment programs are geared up to shift to renewable energy.

The power station will be decommissioned on December 31, 2021, along with two other facilities in northern Germany.

By the end of 2022, Germany will have achieved its goal of completely phasing out nuclear power, set by Chancellor Angela Merkel on May 30, 2011, in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

The plan represented a dramatic change of course by Merkel's ruling conservatives, who just a few months earlier had agreed to extend the lifespan of Germany's oldest power stations.

But it was met with widespread public support in a country with a powerful anti-nuclear movement, fuelled first by fears of a Cold War conflict and then by disasters such as Chernobyl.

- Village church -

In Gundremmingen, however, the decision has been a tough pill to swallow.

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Again, Germany ’s three (non-) nuclear options were debated: (1) an indigenous German nuclear deterrent; (2) a pan-European deterrent (or Eurodeterrent); and (3) preserving Germany ’s latent nuclear technology capacity. The most controversial piece was published by German international relations scholar In contrast to the 2016/2017 debate, the emphasis shifted away from the fundamental question of whether Germany should pursue an alternative nuclear option other than the current nuclear sharing arrangement with the United States at all. Instead, many contributors engaged with the question of

Ultimately, nuclear reactors are designed and operated by humans, and mistakes do happen. However, the fact is that the Fukushima disaster has killed fewer people in total than coal power kills every year under normal operating conditions. Is Germany paranoid about nuclear power? Then the question of cost arises, which is undoubtedly extremely high for nuclear events, especially in such a densely populated and small country like Germany , and you’ll quickly realise that you probably do not want to take that risk even if probability is very low.

The nuclear power station has been "as much a part of the village as the church" and it feels as though "something is dying", said Gerlinde Hutter, owner of a local guest house.

According to Meyer, it will take at least 50 years to remove all radioactive material from the site after the plant has been decommissioned.

The German government is still looking for a long-term storage site for the country's residual nuclear waste.

Gundremmingen is not the only German village facing big changes as the country strives to implement its energy transition strategy.

Renewables have seen a spectacular rise since 2011 and in 2020 made up more than 50 percent of Germany's energy mix for the first time, according to the Fraunhofer research institute -- compared with less than 25 percent ten years ago.

The declining importance of nuclear power (12.5 percent in 2020) "has been compensated for by the expansion of renewable energies", Claudia Kemfert, an energy expert at the DIW economic research institute, told AFP.

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Germany accelerated plans to close all of its old nuclear power reactors and to phase the rest out entirely by 2022. The policy is controversial [6] leading to electricity twice the price of that in neighbouring France. Der Spiegel reported that German Economy and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel admitted that " exiting Russian nuclear opponent Iouli Andreev was critical of the response to Fukushima, and says that the IAEA did not learn from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. He has accused the IAEA and corporations of "wilfully ignoring lessons from the world's worst nuclear accident 25 years ago to protect the industry's

Germany and Spain are just two examples. Similar large groups of hundreds of medical experts exist in countries across the world. In the USA a documentary called PLANDEMIC, which exposes COVID-19 as a criminal operation, is supported by over 27,000 medical doctors! Why are these thousands of medical professionals worldwide saying the pandemic is a crime? “There is NO QUESTION there is going to be a challenge for the coming administration in the arena of infectious diseases. “There will be a SURPRISE OUTBREAK.

Nuclear power stations have therefore not been replaced by coal, though the fossil fuel does still represent almost a quarter of the electricity mix.

- The gas dilemma -

In fact, the phase-out of nuclear energy has been joined by another plan, announced in 2019, to close all of Germany's coal-fired power stations by 2038.

This presents a particular challenge for Germany, which remains the world's leading producer of lignite.

Mining for the brown coal, which is highly polluting, continues to lead to the destruction of villages in the west of the country in order to expand huge open-cast mines.

If Germany is to free itself from lignite, renewables such as wind, solar, biomass and hydropower will have to make up 65 percent of the energy mix by 2030.

Yet the country, which has long been at the forefront of wind energy in Europe, installed only 1.65 gigawatts (GW) of wind farms last year -- the lowest level in a decade, according to the WindEurope advocacy group.

To meet the government's targets, Germany would have to add 9.8 GW of solar and 5.9 GW of onshore wind annually, according to Kemfert.

But the development of new areas for wind or photovoltaic energy production is complex, with plans often coming up against resistance from local residents and the risk of damage to the landscape.

And unless storage and distribution can be improved via so-called virtual power plants, these new forms of energy do not have the same stability as thermal or nuclear power.

To secure its supply, Germany could therefore be tempted to build more gas-fired power stations.

But this would risk reinforcing its dependence on Russia, as illustrated by the controversy surrounding the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

A gas-fired power station is already in the works for the town of Leipheim, just around the corner from Gundremmingen.


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usr: 3
This is interesting!