Sustainable development: the german paradox
In the early 2000’s, a phasing-out of the nuclear energy has been decided in Germany by the Gerhard Schröder’s government.
source : wikipedia.org
After the Fukushima’s disaster in march 2011 and the rise in power of the german ecological party, confirmed in march 2011 by their historical victory in Bade-Wurtemberg, Angela Merkel proclaimed the final shutdown of all the german nuclear power plants in 2023 at the latest. This decision was well-received by the german population, particularly by the anti-nuclear militants.
Germany : an ecological model in Europe
The objectives of the german energy transition (Energiewende) were to reach a share of 35% of the renewable energy in the electric mix before 2020 and to reduce the electricity consumption by 10% over the same period.
Germany managed to engage the movement towards a real energy transition, with an increase of renewable energies from 2010 to 2013, which allowed to compensate the decrease of the electricity provided by the nuclear. The energy sector in Germany is one of the most important in the world. The country occupies a particularly important place in the production of electricity produced by the renewable energies : world leader in the solar energy, second rank for the biomass and second rank for the wind-power.
Today, the german energy transition is based on a bold technological challenge : bet on a massive development of the photovoltaic and wind-energies and strengthen the energy efficiency. The challenge is about to be won, as these technologies are as competitive as the fossil fuels for the new investments.
The German paradox : the coal production
In July 2014, the international non-governmental organization WWF realized a study about the european environmental policy and issued a report entitled « Europe’s Dirty 30 », which exposes the first 30 most polluting centrals in Europe. Four of the five dirtiest power plants in the european union are in Germany. The country consumes more coal for its electricity consumption than any other country of the European Union, in front of Poland and Great Britain.
Today, to produce the energy the country needs, Germany uses the renewable energies but also the coal (especially the lignite, of which it’s the world leading producer) in the former-GDR (East Germany) and in the area of Cologne. The exploitation of the coal mines leads to destroy the forests, the cultures and the villages, just 150km from Berlin.
The german energy transition doesn’t work as well as it should : renewable energies progress but the CO2 emissions too. Germany is one of the largest issuers of greenhouse gases related to energy (6th world ranking). Today, the coal allows Germany to produce 25,8% of its electricity, when it was 20% in 2010.
The success of the coal-power stations lies in the fact thatcoal has a low cost on the energy market.
In 2013, the use of fossil fuels remains dominating.
Some studies plan that Germany won’t be able to reach its climate goals, which consist in the reduction of 40% of the CO2 emissions in 2020 because of the rebirth of the coal, which destroy the climate benefit of renewable energies.
After agreeing on the shutdown of nuclear power production, the political german and european leaders have to find a consensus about the shutdown of coal-power stations, which is still difficult to conceive for Berlin.