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Future Power
Brussels and Berlin Brace for Nuclear Power Stand-off

The EU is ready to take a leadership role in developing the next generation of nuclear power technologies, according to a recent report. The only problem: doing so will put it in direct opposition with Germany, which has in recent years taken a strong stance against nuclear power. The Deutsche Welle reports:

Citing a strategy paper from the EU on Tuesday, “Spiegel Online” reported that the European Union plans to defend its technological dominance in the nuclear sector. According to the document, the European Union’s 28 member states should strengthen cooperation on researching, developing, financing and constructing innovative reactors. […]

The plans contradict policy in Germany, which currently intends to end the domestic use of nuclear power by 2022. As an alternative to nuclear energy, Berlin has pushed to increase renewable energy, such as wind and solar power. But a decision to shut down nuclear power following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has also left Germany reliant on dirty and readily available coal to produce power.

If you’re charting a future course for a sustainable energy mix, nuclear power plants would be one of the first options you’d include in that plan. After all, they’re capable of putting out large amounts of consistent, baseload power (something wind turbines and solar panels can’t match), all without emitting greenhouse gases.

And yet, and yet… Germany has accelerated the decommissioning of its reactors, in large part due to the 2011 Fukushima disaster. But that reaction hasn’t been a rational one—the potential for natural disasters that affect Japan and its reactors aren’t present in Germany. Sure, we ought to carefully consider where we’re siting nuclear plants, but that consideration shouldn’t involve conflating the risks inherent to plants located along a major plate boundary with those experienced somewhere in the middle of one of these tectonic plates.

It’s highly encouraging that the EU is looking to invest more heavily in the next generation of nuclear power. A whole host of new nuclear technologies are coming down the pipe, from smaller modular reactors to ones that run on thorium, or that use molten salt as a medium. These advances promise to bring the costs of constructing these plants down, to make them safer, and even address the nuclear waste issue. Bill Gates has been on the new nuclear bandwagon for a long time, and he’s one of the smarter thinkers on energy out there today.

Brussels seems to be rejecting Berlin’s reactionary anti-nuclear bias, and that’s good news not just for Europe’s energy security, but also for greens around the world concerned about climate change.

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  • Josephbleau

    France is the EU leader in Nuclear tech. Why would Germany want to give them a competitive wedge.

  • Andrew Allison

    Just another example of the the decline in German influence within the EU resulting from Merkel’s crazy refugee (and energy) policy.

    • vb

      The ridiculous attitudes toward nuclear energy, GMOs, etc. didn’t come from Merkel. She might have stood up more against the Green hysteria, and she might have resisted the AGW theories propagated by German academics, but she would have been out of power and the Greens would have been part of a coalition government. You would not believe how much coverage the press gives Green protests against nuclear storage facilities and other leftist issues, and most of the people fall for it. A rational approach to power, nutrition, and environmental issues will take you out of power completely.

  • Frank Natoli

    Fukushima was not only in an earthquake area, but the fuel tanks for the emergency generators [that would power the reactor circulation system in the event of a system wide power failure] were located at sea level and dockside, the easier for tankers to unload. The tidal wave created by the earthquake destroyed the fuel tanks, the emergency generators ran dry, and the nuclear plant overheated. The accident could have been anticipated and avoided.
    Either the Germans believe there will always be an unanticipated reactor problem AND/OR they are unwilling to confront their Greens. In either case, so what? If the Germans don’t care about power when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine, whose business is that other than the Germans?

  • Blackbeard

    When the Greens in Germany reject nuclear and other modern energy technologies they are not actually promising to use dramatically less electricity. What they are really doing is exporting something they see as a problem to other countries. Germany will be happy to buy power from nuclear power plants in Eastern Europe or anywhere else, just as they won’t permit fracking but will buy lots of natgas from Russia. This is a consistent problem in the environmental area. The Greens think they are protecting the environment but actually the places where the Greens are strong are places where environmental regulations are already pretty good. When, for example, California outlaws offshore drilling but then uses oil produced in Nigeria is the environment really better off?

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