Befuddled by Flatulent German Energy Policy, the Rest of World Sticks to Nuclear Power
May 17, 2013 • 10:21AM

Not so much in the presentations given in the morning sessions of the International Nuclear Technology Conference in Berlin May 15, but more, and even more so, in private discussions, the greatest astonishment over the German exit from nuclear power was voiced. Most of the countries in Europe, as well outside, are going ahead with their national development plans for nuclear power, in spite of the German renewables-only approach, but the Germans are causing major problems and frictions in the rest of Europe. The result is that German technology will be absent wherever new nuclear projects are underway in Europe; for example, if Bulgaria goes for the second power complex at Belene, German firms will have no role in it.

The other side of this problem is, as a spokeswoman for the Russian-German firm NUKEM said, that political pressure is also great on firms to walk out of existing international cooperative arrangements. NUKEM no longer is active in Germany, but on an international scale it is, not least through the activities of its new Russian owner (since 2009), Rosatomstroiexport; but the future of the Germans is in question, although at the moment, the firm has more jobs than before 2009.

A nuclear engineer at the German Rossendorf research center in Saxony told EIR that not only is there a rapid exit from nuclear power, but also from research: funding is not being renewed, which implies that in five years at the outside, nuclear research in Germany will collapse — and not least, also because there is no new generation of scientists, after the present generations die out. There may not even be enough specialists to manage the shutdown of existing nuclear plants and the storage of radioactive waste inside Germany. The storage site at Gorleben is shut down without any replacement.

One big problem, this engineer said, is the power-generating industry, which is so dominated by pragmatism that it always accommodates to politicians' wishes. If we cannot produce power in Germany, we will simply import from other countries, goes the thinking; this is also the ideology in Austria, which is officially as non-nuclear as Germany and already imports 6% of its needs from nuclear power produced in Hungary and the Czech Republic. And the obsession of the Germans to produce as much wind power as possible in the north, without supplying the grid for power transport inside Germany, forces neighboring Poland and Czech Republic to handle the transport over a detour of several hundred kilometers, just to bring the power back to Germany's south. This is added to consumer prices in Germany, and monopolizes the use of grids in Poland and Czech Republic during certain periods when a lot of wind power happens to come from Germany's north.

Another insane aspect is that whenever there is oversupply of German wind power, it exports to France at dumping prices, which generates a fair amount of hostility among French power producers who have a justified interest in selling their nuclear-generated power, and dislike the German dumping practices, which the government in Berlin subsidizes. This is kind of an energy warfare, in the context of imperialist-generated conflict among subject nations.