Germany decisive while UK dithers on green energy routes

● By David Buchan, University of Oxford ● Germany and the UK have ambitious clean energy policies. Both have set themselves national emission reduction targets beyond the European Union’s goal of 20% below emissions levels of 1990. Germany has committed itself to a 40% cut by 2020, the UK a reduction of 35% by 2022, and each promises further reductions in later years. Both countries are going to struggle to achieve these self-imposed goals. In Germany’s case, one obvious reason for this is its 2011 decision following the Fukushima accident to close half the country’s nuclear reactors immediately, and phase out the rest within a decade. Abandoning such a large source of low carbon energy clearly makes decarbonisation of the power system harder. The difficulty is compounded by the fact that Chancellor Angela Merkel did not relax targets that had been toughed up only just the previous year. These had been made on the assumption that the lives of Germany’s current generation of reactors would be prolonged, not curtailed. Britain’s problem is one of dither, not distaste. The numerous energy white papers drawn up by the UK government in the 1990s and early 2000s totally failed to address whether to replace the UK’s ageing reactor fleet, and if so how. The final realisation has come late in the game that this particularly expensive form of low carbon energy can only be financed in a liberalised energy market through taxpayer paid-for, state-organised price support. The exact level of that support is what the Treasury and France’s EdF are haggling over, but it looks likely that Britain will be down to one functioning reactor before EdF gets around to building anything new. One positive effect of Germany’s Fukushima fright was to boost support for renewables. It is important to realise that in Germany, unlike other countries and certainly unlike Britain, deploying wind turbines and solar panels has become a grassroots popular movement ...Zum vollständigen Artikel

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