Commission sees nuclear exit within decade

Germany's energy ethics commission is to recommend a complete phaseout of nuclear power by 2021. The independent body’s report is due to be submitted to Chancellor Angela Merkel this weekend.

Commission sees nuclear exit within decade
Image Source: DPA

The commission, which was established to report on the future of nuclear power, is holding its final meeting this Saturday in Berlin and could still alter the final report. The draft report, which news agency DPA has seen, states: “The ethics commission is of the firm belief that an exit can be completed within a decade.”

The findings are to be submitted to Chancellor Merkel on Saturday evening or Sunday, ahead of a meeting of the coalition of her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), their Bavarian allies the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) on Sunday evening. The government will then decide on a final date for the country’s nuclear exit, which has been brought forward in the aftermath of the nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan.

The report states that the disaster in Japan had “made the risks of nuclear energy much clearer to many people in Germany.”

In March, Merkel reversed a 2010 decision to extend the lifespan of the country’s nuclear power plants. She also ordered the temporary closure of the country’s seven oldest reactors. Her U-turn on nuclear policy followed a string of regional election upsets which have seen support wane for the government parties as voters turned to the Greens, a party that has consistently opposed nuclear energy.

On Friday, Germany’s state environment ministers jointly called for the seven oldest plants to be shut down permanently. The 16 ministers also demanded “the legally earliest possible exit from nuclear energy” while raising the mix of power from renewable energy to 40 percent by at least 2020.

While the government makes its deliberations this weekend, many Germans are taking to the streets to keep up the pressure for a rapid exit from nuclear power. Tens of thousands of anti-nuclear demonstrators are expected to attend marches in 20 cities, with organizers estimating at least 30,000 will attend the rally in Berlin alone.

The Local/DPA/smd

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Could the Norwegian government introduce a cap on energy prices? 

Due to soaring prices, the Norwegian government is mulling over several solutions, including a potential price cap for electricity and limiting energy exports abroad. 

Could the Norwegian government introduce a cap on energy prices? 

High energy exports in the last 12 months, low filling levels in Norwegian reservoirs and an uncertain energy situation around Europe have led to soaring electricity prices in southern Norway. 

Last year the government introduced a scheme whereby it covers 80 percent of consumers’ energy bills where the price rose above 70 øre/kWh. The portion of the bill under 70 øre is paid in full by households. The portion the government covers will increase to 90 percent in October. 

Critics have argued that the current scheme still leaves households struggling with their bills. As a result, Norway’s government has said it is mulling its options to curb energy bills.

Norway primarily depends on hydroelectric dams to help it meet its energy needs. Still, reservoirs in southern Norway have been at the lowest level for ten years, public broadcaster NRK reports. 

Low reservoir filling over the past year has conceded with record exports with higher prices on the continent, making sending power abroad an enticing proposition.

Recently, exports have fallen significantly, and the government is considering introducing a limit to reduce the possibility of energy rationing being introduced this winter. 

“Restrictions on the export of electricity to Europe may be one of the measures that is needed,” Elisabeth Sæther, state secretary at the Ministry of Oil and Energy, told NRK. 

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre ruled out completely shutting off exports to the continent. 

“It is a dangerous thought and will not serve us well. It could give us more expensive power and lack of power in given situations. We will hardly be able to import power when we need it without contributing to other countries when they need it. There is a reciprocity in this,” he told the newspaper Aftenposten earlier in the week. 

Sæther also told NRK that the government was weighing up putting a maximum price on energy but warned that it could have unforeseen consequences. 

“We are afraid that a maximum price means that more water is drawn into the reservoirs, which we need for the winter. It is a serious situation. We must prevent ourselves from getting into a situation where we lack enough power this winter,” she told the broadcaster. 

At the end of May, the state-owned Statnett announced that the supply situation in Norway might be under strain – in some scenarios – all the way up to and through the winter, especially if Southern Norway experiences drier than usual weather in the second part of the year.