If Germany wants to achieve climate neutrality, it needs nuclear power – opinion
If Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is really serious about her promise to make the country climate-neutral by 2050, her first step would be to reverse the end of nuclear power by 2022, writes Charles Lane in an op-ed for the Washington Post. Lane argues the energy transition has achieved little in terms of reducing carbon emissions despite costing billions of euros, because Germany replaced some nuclear power with coal. “There is a global lesson here. For all its risks, nuclear remains a crucial source of low-carbon-emission baseload electric power,” writes Lane. “The point is not that Germany was necessarily wrong to pursue clean energy or that the Energiewende is doomed to fail. It’s just that Germany could achieve its carbon goals a lot sooner by keeping nuclear,” according to Lane, who also notes that “one of Germany’s cultural idiosyncrasies is a phobia about nuclear energy.”
Opposition to nuclear power has been particularly strong in Germany for several decades. VW CEO Herbert Diess this week drew heavy criticism for suggesting that Germany should first exit coal instead of nuclear power to protect the climate. Utility association BDEW said this week that reaching climate targets in the energy sector does not require a longer operating life for nuclear power plants. The operators of Germany’s remaining nuclear plants also said in March that the use of the technology would come to an end by 2022, as planned.