Germany Still Threatened By Fukushima

Or by the ghost of Fukushima, I should say.

Fukushima

Danger! Danger! More “experts” issuing expert warnings here again: Nearly three years have passed since the Fukushima disaster in Japan and Germany is still not adequately prepared for a nuclear incident, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports.

I can only assume that they mean being not adequately prepared for  a nuclear incident caused by a magnitude 9.0 undersea megathrust earthquake hitting somewhere off the coast of Bremerhaven in a region of the world that doesn’t “do” earthquakes and causing a massive tsunami that could wipe out one of Germany’s coastal power plants, or maybe even one in Bavaria, provided, of course, that said tsunami could still find a German nuclear power plant that was still in operation, which is very doubtful indeed, but still.

Nope. You can never be prepared enough when it comes to preparing for one of those worst conceivable and most completely unpredictable natural disasters like-in-recorded-history-type-disasters that has already happened somewhere else, I guess.

Deutschland ist nicht ausreichend auf einen nuklearen Störfall vorbereitet.

Energy Turnaround? Nein, Danke!

Not if the SüdLink power lines have to go through my backyard!

Grid

Network providers planning one of the country’s most important power-transmission pathways presented a proposal on Wednesday for an 800-kilometer, or 500-mile, corridor of high-voltage lines. The power lines would carry electricity from wind turbines in the blustery north states to power-hungry industries in the south...

But many Germans balk at the idea of high-voltage power lines running through their backyards and the fields around their communities. Last week, angry villagers in Bavaria protested plans by the network operator Amprion to construct a similar high-voltage line through their state. An attempt by the power company TenneT last year to have citizens invest in another planned expansion to the grid in the state of Schleswig-Holstein failed to win substantial support.

And mark my words here folks, the real ugliness hasn’t even begun yet. They’re never going to get this thing built.

“The corridor is not definitive, and we need feedback from citizens and communities to be able to plan this important link.”

Sunny, Windy, Costly And Dirty

What’s not to like here?

Super Minister

“Super minister?” I’d say this is more like a job for Superpenner.

The difference between the market price for electricity and the higher fixed price for renewables is passed on to consumers, whose bills have been rising for years. An average household now pays an extra €260 ($355) a year to subsidise renewables: the total cost of renewable subsidies in 2013 was €16 billion. Costs are also going up for companies, making them less competitive than rivals from America, where energy prices are falling thanks to the fracking boom…

Cost is not the only problem with the Energiewende. It has in effect turned the entire German energy industry into a quasi-planned economy with perverse outcomes. At certain times on some days, sun and wind power may provide almost all German electricity. But the sun does not always shine, especially in winter, and the wind is unpredictable. And “batteries”—storage technologies that, for example, convert power to gas and back again to electricity—on a scale sufficient to supply a city are years away. Nuclear-power plants are being phased out (this week’s court decision that the closure of a plant in Hesse was illegal will raise costs even more, as it may entitle the operator to more compensation). So conventional power plants have to stay online in order to assure continuous supply. 

I Got The Power

The power bill, I mean. The Power Bill Blues, actually. Just like everybody else here in Germany.

Power

The electricity prices in Germany are the highest in the EU. A household here shells out 1000 euros annually (approx. $1,370). The French pay half. The EU average is around 700 euros.

Is this what they meant by the Energiewende (energy turnaround)? The power may be renewable here but I’m not sure how much longer the money is going to be.

Well, at least the electricity prices in Germany will be going up even higher again next year.

Bei den Strompreisen gehört Deutschland innerhalb der EU zu den Spitzenreitern. Ein Haushalt zahlt mehr als 1000 Euro, der EU-Schnitt liegt bei 700. Und im kommenden Jahr dürfte es noch teurer werden.

Taxing Nuclear Fuel Rods That Aren’t Being Used?

You can never be too rich or too thin, I guess. And if you’re Germany, you can never tax too much, either.

Taxation

Germany’s biggest utilities, still reeling from the country’s early exit from nuclear power, scored a major victory Tuesday when a Hamburg court said the national tax on nuclear fuel rods may violate European law.

The Hamburg finance court said it “cannot assess beyond any doubt” whether the tax on nuclear fuel used for electricity generation complies with European law. It will now ask the European Court of Justice to decide whether the levy conforms with rules that prohibit member states from creating new taxes on electricity for “general budget financing purposes.”

The tax was introduced at the beginning of 2011 and came as part of an extension of nuclear reactors’ operating lives that the government had agreed on. However, the nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima power plant in March of that year triggered a U-turn in German energy policy, with Chancellor Angela Merkel ordering the immediate shutdown of the oldest plants and the early phaseout of nuclear energy by 2022. Out of 17 reactors that were in operation in March 2011, only nine are still producing power. But the fuel-rod tax remains in place, to the utilities’ annoyance.

Das Hamburger Finanzgericht will vom Europäischen Gerichtshof (EuGH) in Luxemburg zentrale Fragen zur umstrittenen Brennelementesteuer klären lassen.

No Contradiction Here

Just move along, folks. Nothing to look at here.

Loans

While German dedication to saving the German environment by ridding the country of nuclear power is in full swing (sort of), the German government has absolutely no problem using public money to guarantee the construction of nuclear power plants in other countries at the same time.

It’s not a contradiction really, though. Honest. Environment Minister Peter Almaier’s current ministry slogan is “high time that something changed” and they are even trying to set up an international club of countries who have done/will do away with nuclear energy. And that’s the main thing. So something has changed, sort of. The countries Germany is helping to build atomic energy programs for just won’t be allowed to join their club, that’s all.

“It is a gross contradiction, that we are pushing forwards with the change in energy generation while supporting atomic energy abroad.”  

Electricity Prices Rising Dramatically For Some Reason

In a puzzling move that absolutely no one can explain, more than 200 German power suppliers have announced that they will be making big price hikes in the coming year. Consumers will then pay about 11 percent more on average.

Some experts speculate that the unexpected price increases could have to do with the costs associated with the increased efficiency and service currently being witnessed throughout the industry (see yesterday’s post). Others have surmised that these increased costs will be needed by the industry in the winter months to help fight global warming, or cooling in this case. Another group of experts believes that this dramatic move was prompted because Germans, already long used to paying some of the highest energy bills in Europe, just won’t notice and/or care.

Die Preissteigerungen begründen die Konzerne mit den gestiegenen Kosten für die erneuerbaren Energien.

Who Needs Sandy?

Thanks to this dad gern new-fangled Energiewende (energy turnaround), the power goes out in Germany “mit ohne” (without) a damned hurricane these days.

Es ist 16:32 Uhr, für die meisten ist der Feierabend nicht mehr weit. Da zuckt in den Büros kurz das Licht. Im Stadtteil Griesheim gehen die Lampen sogar ganz aus. Zeitumstellung. Es ist dunkel. Rund um die Innenstadt bricht mitten in der Rush Hour der Verkehr zusammen. Die Ampeln tun – zumindest nördlich des Mains – ihren Dienst nicht mehr. S- und Straßenbahnen bleiben auf offener Strecke stehen. In den U-Bahnen geht die Notbeleuchtung an.

Phase-Out Fizzling Out

Support for Germany’s Atomausstieg (nuclear phase-out) ain’t what it used to be, it seems. And it seems to have something to do with Geld (money), or something. With reality, in other words.

According to an Emnid survey, 77 percent of German voters asked say it is very important that energy costs remain affordable while only 53 percent care if the nuclear phase-out succeeds or not.

Welcome back to the real world, volks, I mean folks. Hey, you are here in Germany after all. And there is a clearly discernable pattern here. Once the first wave of hysteria is over, it always goes back to es darf eben nichts kosten (OK, but only as long as it doesn’t cost anything).

Für sie ermittelte Emnid auch, dass zwei Drittel der Bürger maximal 50 Euro pro Jahr mehr für Strom zahlen wollen.

No One Can Explain German Power Grid Instability

But as far as I can tell, it seems to have begun sometime shortly after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

Sudden fluctuations in Germany’s power grid are causing major damage to a number of industrial companies. While many of them have responded by getting their own power generators and regulators to help minimize the risks, they warn that companies might be forced to leave if the government doesn’t deal with the issues fast…

The problem is that wind and solar farms just don’t deliver the same amount of continuous electricity compared with nuclear and gas-fired power plants. To match traditional energy sources, grid operators must be able to exactly predict how strong the wind will blow or the sun will shine.

“Every company — from small businesses to companies listed on the DAX — are buying one (APC emergency power generators) from us.” 

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