The German plan to completely phase out nuclear power by 2022 announced May 30 by Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Christian Democratic Union-led political alliance is boosting demand across the alternative and renewable power value chain.
As a result, the EU’s largest member nation will add 1,800 megawatts (MW) worth of new wind turbines this year, 16% more than the 1,551 MW total for 2010, according to BWE, the German Wind Energy Association. Installed wind power capacity totaled 27,214 MW in Germany last year, up 5.6% from 25,777 in 2009, according to the European Wind Energy Association.
European offshore wind power capacity has grown 4.5% in the first half of 2011, as 101 new offshore wind turbines with a total 348 MW capacity were connected to power grids in Germany, Norway and the UK. Another 2,844 MW are currently under construction, the EWEA reported recently.
The German government has laid out a roadmap for the nuclear phase-out, which calls for renewable power sources to replace the capacity lost from shutting down all its 17 nuclear power reactors by 2022. Eight of them had been shut down as of late June, according to a Voice of America report.
In order to facilitate the transition to renewable power sources, the German government intends to pass a law that will expedite the planning process for power plants and energy storage facilities, according to Der Spiegel.
40% Renewable Power by 2022
An insurance buffer has been built into the phase-out plan in the event that the transition to renewable sources doesn’t work out according to plan, in order to shore up the electrical grid in the event of a shortfall. Hence, the phase-out three of Germany’s 17 nuclear power plants will be allowed to continue to operate until 2022.
Germany is the first industrial power to even seriously consider a complete phase-out of nuclear power. It had forged itself into a leading adopter and developer of renewable energy well before the plan was even proposed, however.
The share of German electricity supplied by renewable sources came to around 17% as of year-end 2010, up from 6.3% in 2000. Hence, some 40% of German electricity would be generated by renewable sources by 2022 if all goes well with the plan to replace nuclear with renewable power.
Skepticism and opposition to the plan remains, however. Opposition Social Democrats and members of German industry continue to oppose and criticize the plan on technological and economic grounds even as German people organize public rallies to support it.