Nuclear Power in Germany – Why Not?

Today members of the German Bundestag will decide whether to prolong the running period of nuclear power stations in Germany. There are many controversies around the voting (e.g., the fact that the government would like to avoid a subsequent voting in the Bundesrat, where it hasn’t the majority, while there are legal opinions claiming that the Bundesrat has to co-decide). Many of them are of legal or economic nature. But I wanted to give a brief overview over why nuclear power is an irresponsible and counter-productive source of electricity.

Here they are:

  1. For the time being, there is no single launched final storage site in the world for the highly radioactive waste produced through nuclear power generation – even though the first nuclear power plants were launched in the 50-ies. Admittedly, there are two sites agreed on, in Sweden and in Finland – but both are still controversial and shall be launched as late as in 2020. Thus: we already have a lot of waste, still without a possibility to storage it – even so the German government want to produce even more of it.
  2. Uranium mining: whether a uranium peak is arriving or already passed, is a highly controversial issue, so I won’t discuss it here. But the fact is that uranium mining causes high environmental damages – and that even in countries like Australia, where there are comparatively high legal standards and modern technology. But much of the uranium we use in our European power plants is mined in Africa and Asia – and there the standards aren’t even comparable.
  3. Nuclear power remains in conflict with renewables. While generation and transmission of energy from renewable sources must be flexible and decentralized, nuclear power stations are quite the contrary – it is very costly to restrict their energy production, and they produce vast amounts of energy each, thus being the antipode of decentralization.
  4. There is the possibility of a GAU, a big nuclear accident – it doesn’t really matter, whether the cause should be technical failure or a terrorist attack. Even if the likeliness of such an accident is minimal – should it occur, we would have a very, very big problem.
  5. It is often claimed that nuclear electricity is cheap. Yes, it is, but to a high extent because of vast indirect subsidies by the State, without which the development of those power stations would have paid off.
  6. In Germany there is another problem: all nuclear power stations are properties of the so called “Big Four”, the four big energy corporations EnBW, RWE, E.on and Vattenfall. Thus, the prolonging of the running times would benefit only these corporations, even enlarging their market power, which already is huge.

Do we really want to rely on this kind of electricity generation?

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