By Romeo St-Martin
Canadian Nuclear Association
You can add Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the list of skeptics of Germany’s decision to phase out its nuclear power plants.
During a question-and-answer session at a business event in Germany on March 26, Canadian Press reported Harper had this to say when asked about Germany’s energy policy.
He expressed skepticism that Germany would be able to meet its goal of phasing out fossil fuels and nuclear while having a scant supply of hydro power.
“I do not know an economy in the world that does not rely heavily on at least one of those, so this is a brave new world you’re attempting; we wish you well with that,” he said to seemingly nervous laughter from the crowd.
He said it would be very challenging for Germany not to rely on some combination of fossil fuels, nuclear and hydro, but said Canada was ready to help.
Germany plans to phase out all of its nuclear plants by 2020 and its so-called “Energiewende” calls for the country to have 80 per cent of its energy supplied by renewables by 2050.
Renewables, nuclear and hydro are the only energy sournces that release no emissions during generation. But only nuclear and hydro can provide a stable baseload of energy supply.
So far the transition to renewables has not reduced greenhouse gas emissions and German industry figures published in January 2014 show that bituminous coal and lignite together contributed 45.5 percent of Germany’s gross energy output in 2013, up from 44 percent the previous year.
The German government has defended its decision to phase out low-carbon nuclear as a baseload and increase its reliance on coal in the short term. Germany’s environment minister, Barbara Hendricks, even told a reporter in January, “We must not demonize coal. We still need to transition to a guarantee security of supply.”