How Germany Will Phase Out Nuclear Power

Just over six months after giving the big German energy companies an extension of twelve years to the oldest reactors in the country, the government of Angela Merkel approved Monday, June 6, a bill aimed at breaking of civilian nuclear power in advance. The latest central close no later than 2022. At that time, renewable energy will be largely taken over 22% of electricity currently produced by the atom. According to forecasts of Berlin, at least 35% of total energy consumed in Germany will come from renewable.

And it seems spectacular political at first glance, this “energy turning point ” should not deceive: Germany prepares for its long transition to an all-renewable. The departure of Ms. Merkel is not only a policy response to anxiety born March 11, with the nuclear accident in Fukushima, it confirms a strategic industry that began in the 1990s, which aims to make the Germany a world champion of green technologies and renewable energy.

Renewable energy is already an industry now in Germany. “In the view of jobs and value creation it generates, it is one of the most important sectors of the German economy,” said Bernd Hirschl, an expert at the Institute for Ecological Economic Research.

According to figures from the institute, the industry had 370,000 jobs in Germany in 2010, an increase of 8% from 2009 and a doubling from 2004. “A few years ago, industry representatives were announced to be able to count 500,000 gross jobs in 2020,” said Mr. Hirschl.

“If this forecast is realized, renewable energies will far beyond the chemical sector and would be close to the automotive industry, today’s locomotive of employment in Germany,” he says.

This significant development is the result of a policy initiated in the 1980s. In the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident (April 1986) and under the influence of environmental movements, Germany focuses on renewable energy for its electricity production.

In 1991 the law was passed “current feedback”, which obliges energy suppliers to buy electricity from renewable sources at a price fixed by law. The cost of this type of energy is carried over to all consumers. This is the first public aid granted to the sector.

A second text was voted in 2000. The Law on Renewable Energy has completed by improving the compensation system, now guaranteed for twenty years. It helped to increase investment in the sector, including photovoltaics. Then came two other pieces of adaptation in 2004 and 2009. In twenty years, the share of renewables in total electricity generated will increase from 3.1% in 1990 to 17% in 2010 – divided between hydroelectricity (3.3%), wind (5.8%), biomass (4.5%) and PV (1.9%).