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24 Oct 2019, 12:19
Sören Amelang

RWE head insists “nuclear energy economically dead,” expects tenders for gas plants

Clean Energy Wire

Nuclear energy is too expensive to stand a chance against renewables, according to Rolf Martin Schmitz, CEO of nuclear energy plant operator RWE. "Nuclear energy is economically dead," Schmitz said at an event organised by the Economic Council (CDU Wirtschaftsrat), a business group associated with chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative CDU party. Asked whether Germany was risking its economic future by foregoing investments in a new generation of nuclear technology, Schmitz replied: "Why should I build nuclear power stations, which carry an inherent risk, if I can already harvest the sun's energy for less than half the price today?" He added that current construction of nuclear plants anywhere on the globe were led by other motives, such as military interests. All operators of Germany's remaining nuclear power stations have said their use will come to an end at the end of 2022 as planned.

Schmitz also said he was concerned about supply security once Germany's planned coal exit gathered pace following the nuclear exit, adding that the country would have to build additional gas power plants that can also run on climate-neutral synthetic gas to cover peak demand. Otherwise, Schmitz explained, the country might have to import about a quarter of peak demand by 2030, and it remained uncertain where this electricity would come from given that neighbouring countries also plan to exit CO2-intensive generation. "I expect tenders for gas power plants in 2022 at the latest," he said. The roll-out of renewables is central to Germany's future power supply, but it remains questionable whether the country will be able to increase the share of renewable power to 65 percent of demand by 2030 as currently planned given the strong opposition to onshore wind turbines, Schmitz added. 

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