(Nationaler Aktionsplan Energieeffizienz) With the publication of its → Climate Action Programme 2020, the German government committed to reduce emissions by 25 to 30 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents through energy efficiency measures in its National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency. Energy-saving renovation of buildings was to account for the best part of this reduction. NAPE also established 500 energy efficiency networks of between eight and 15 businesses with collective energy efficiency targets.
Russian gas company Gazprom is planning a major new pipeline to bring gas from Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany, running parallel to, and expanding the capacity of, the existing Nord Stream pipeline. The project is controversial, with critics arguing that it would increase Russian influence in Germany. This is a concern for Poland, the Baltic states, and the Ukraine, which also fear that they would lose out on revenue from the transport of natural gas via other existing routes. Critics also argue that a new gas pipeline does not fit with the EU’s strategy that aims at replacing fossil with renewable energy in the medium term, which would make Nord Stream 2 a stranded investment.
(Stilllegung und Rückbau) Nuclear decommissioning is the process of shutting down and dismantling nuclear power plants. Because many of the plants’ components are radioactive, the process is complex, costly, and takes decades to complete. In Germany, nuclear power plant operators are responsible for carrying out and funding this work once a power plant’s service life is over. → nuclear waste disposal is to be taken care of by the state, and paid for by a state-managed fund financed by the plant operators. Due to the legal obligation to shut down all nuclear power plants by 2022 (see → nuclear phase-out), Germany is becoming a market leader in nuclear decommissioning expertise.
(Atomausstieg) In 2000, the then coalition government of Social Democrats and the Green Party agreed to phase out nuclear power by limiting the lifespan of nuclear power stations to about 32 years – meaning the last would be retired around 2022. In 2010, a new government under Chancellor Angela Merkel extended the operating time of nuclear plants by up to 14 years. This decision was reversed only months later in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima accident, when eight German nuclear plants were permanently shut down, and the federal parliament voted to limit the operation of the remaining nine, with the last three to go offline in 2022.
(Atommülllagerung) Nuclear waste from Germany’s decommissioned nuclear power plants must be treated, sealed in containers called CASTORS, and stored out of harm’s way for up to several million years. The German government currently speaks of “one million years”. Though paid for by a fund financed by the nuclear power plant operators, the logistics are the responsibility of the federal government. The interim storage of just 26 containers of high-level waste was highly controversial, as no German state was keen to provide a home for the radioactive material. The expert Commission on the Storage of High-Level Radioactive Waste expects the process of finding, building, loading, and sealing a final repository to last well into the next century.