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If Germany wants to achieve climate neutrality, it needs nuclear power

2 19 0

There was fervent applause in Harvard Yard last week when the university’s commencement speaker, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, promised to “do my utmost to ensure that Germany, my country, will reach the goal of climate neutrality in 2050.”

If Merkel is really serious about that, her first step would be to reverse the blunder her own government made in March 2011: decreeing the end of nuclear power in Germany by 2022.

The ensuing Energiewende (energy transition), Merkel’s grand plan for a post-nuclear future dominated by wind and solar energy, has achieved relatively little, in terms of reduced carbon emissions, despite costing 160 billion euros over the past five years.

A recent report from the German Federal Court of Auditors says “the enormous effort made and the considerable burden placed on the citizens and on the economy” stand “in sharp contrast to the poor benefit obtained.”

Would the Harvardians have applauded if they’d known that? Not only will Merkel’s country fail to meet its 2020 goal of a 40 percent reduction in emissions, relative to 1990, but total emissions also stayed essentially unchanged for the Energiewende’s first six years — before falling 4 percent in 2018, mainly because warmer weather reduced heating demand. Germans pay the highest prices for electricity in Europe.

The essence of the problem: Formerly, Germany relied on 17 nuclear reactors for about 25 percent of its electricity. Now........

© Washington Post