Issue No.9 Summer
(July 2005)


ENS News

ENS President's Contribution

Tapping Unusual Quarters

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ETRAP 2005

ENC 2005

PIME 2006

RRFM 2006

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Member Societies & Corporate Members

News from Germany

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YGN Report

Forum 2005

Jan Runermark Award

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FORATOM on Baltic sea Region

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Japan: green light for Monju

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Karlsruhe Research Center invites applications

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ETRAP 2005

ETRAP 2005
23-25 November 2005 in Brussels


RRFM 2006RRFM 2006

RRFM 2006
30 April - 3 May 2006 in Sofia, Bulgaria

News from Germany

Wolf-Dieter Krebs KTG 23.06.05

Wolf Dieter Krebs

Wolf-Dieter Krebs
Past KTG President and
ENS Board member

Energy policy has moved back into the center of the political debate in Germany. The composition of the future energy mix is one of the current key topics. The parties supporting the present federal government in Berlin (Socialdemocrats and Greens) heavily lost the last state election in Northrhine-Westphalia in May. In a feeling of resignation Chancellor Schröder is now going for early federal elections this fall, a year earlier than normal. This is quite abnormal for Germany due to constitutional restraints.
The emerging overwhelming election campaign issues are economic slow-down (almost stagnation) and resulting high unemployment rates in the order of 10 percent as well as the reasons for them. High energy, especially electricity prices are strongly claimed by the electricity consuming industry as a major competitive disadvantage. Electricity intensive industries like aluminum smelting plants and basic chemistry are already shifting production abroad. The massive expansion of renewable energies and energy tax increases have more than eaten up the price decrease due to market liberalization. The phase-out of nuclear power as presently fixed by law will de facto start during the next legislative period, only the 350 MWe Obrigheim NPP has been shut down in May 2005.

NPP Obrigheim

The present opposition parties are calling for life extension of the 17 operating NPP and an economically reasonable further support of renewables. A debate on new nuclear power plants is mostly avoided for the time being. But there is a strong demand for immediate completion of the exploration in the Gorleben salt mine for disposal of HAW and for putting into operation the Konrad

iron ore mine for non heat producing radioactive waste. What is important: This is openly supported by the state government of Lower Saxony where the two sites are located.

The public at large is mentally split. Only a small minority “wants or likes” nuclear power but a majority of the German population is now convinced that the existing NPP will eventually be operated longer than the phase-out agreement states.

The electric utility industry for the time being lives quite well with the phase-out agreement which allows pretty undisturbed operation of the 17 NPP. However the utilities are facing enormous challenges: Up to 40,000 MWe of new generating capacity must be installed in Germany by 2020. Half of this is the nuclear power being phased out, the other half is fossil power generated by ageing plants which will need to be replaced. In addition a significant upgrade of the high voltage grid will be needed in order to transmit wind power generated in northern Germany to the south. This means immense investments and far-reaching decisions. The key parameter in the utility decision-making process is the political boundary conditions. The utilities demand from any new government a clear definition on a long-term basis and a reasonable weighing of the numerous criteria which steer the energy mix into different directions. This goes far beyond any just national assessment. The media and the public increasingly realize that a sensible energy mix can only be defined by a global assessment. No clear decisions will lead to postponed investments and the bill will have to be paid: Not by the utilities or the politicians but by industrial and private electricity consumers and indirectly by the unemployed, i.e. by the whole nation.

For many years KTG has supported common sense thinking: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. We need all energy options including nuclear power and only this low cost base load can earn the money needed to develop renewable energies into competitiveness.

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