Monday, November 17, 2008

Nuclear Power Enables German Utility To Offer Affordable CO2-Free Electricity Option.

German electricity utility RWE has come out swinging against Germany’s absurd nuclear phase-out policy with a new electricity purchasing package for consumers based on a mix of 68% nuclear power and 32% renewables, mainly hydroelectric. The story can be found here:

Although the power purchased through the scheme will be slightly more expensive than usual, RWE has stated that baring changes to taxes, the power will remain at a fixed cost until 2011. It is being promoted to consumers concerned about CO2-induced global warming.

This is not the first scheme of its kind to be marketed in Europe. Finnish utility Fortum has also marketed two carbon emission-free packages, one costing slightly more than usual based on nuclear power, and another devoted to electricity produced by non-nuclear renewable sources, which is more costly:

Predictably enough, reactionary anti-nuclear campaigners from the German chapter of Greenpeace have denounced the RWE initiative in their usual soundbite press release style.

“Greenpeace Germany is critical of the new plan. "'Pro-Climate' is just a label. The product is in no way ecological. It does nothing to help the environment," Andree Bohling, an energy expert with Greenpeace Germany, told Spiegel Online.”

Yeah, right. Anyhow, that quote comes from the following story:

I hope that German consumers will chose wisely with regard to this new option for purchasing their electricity and send a clear message to decision makers, underlined in Euros. Unfortunately it looks like it will be quite some time before Australian consumers will have the luxury of expressing a similar preference.


Andrew said...

Such a typical response from the Greens.

Yeah, it looks like Australia will take awhile to develop nuclear power. Got lots of coal to burn up first lol.

George Carty said...

I'd like Germans opposed to the phase out to display this poster, explaining Schroeder's motivation...

drbuzz0 said...

Germany is really the train wreck of bad energy policy. The thing which makes the situation so messed up is if you look at the numbers and the actual support in the country it's very heavily skewed.

The average German is becoming more and more receptive to nuclear energy as the failure of the existing policies become more apparent. The public tends to support it, but you would not think that from what you see there. There is a very powerful, very active and very vocal minority that is fighting tooth and nail to prevent nuclear energy.

Politically it's a lot easier to stop something from happening than it is to make it happen and the anti-nukes managed to force the "phase-out" into law and are defending it with all they have. There is a very strong and powerful anti-nuclear mentality in the political sphere and a lot of activism that is well funded and coordinated.

You have to also consider the kind of individual you have on both sides. The working stiffs might support nuclear energy, but you won't see too many pro-nuclear rallies because the working stiffs are too busy. The protests are basically professional activists or semi-pro activists. This is all scripted and it has gained enough power to keep the status quo.

Essentially what is happening in Germany is a method for an interest group to hold the majority hostage in a democracy.

There are strategies that a single-issue group like this can use to exploit some of the properties of a complementary system. Essentially they can maintain things as long as no single strong pro-nuclear party takes complete control and as long as they maintain enough success to have at least one coalition party make anti nuclear energy a condition of any coalition. But even if that doesn't work they can still stall things for an election or two through motions or by gumming things up on the local level.

They don't need everyone to support them, they don't even need most of Germany to support them, they just need to keep a large enough group scared enough to maintain a stalemate and to let this single-issue come in the backdoor.

What would be needed to stop them is one of two things: Either a very very vast majority of germans become at least luke-warm pro nuclear or a small majority become gung-ho pro nuclear to the point that they won't vote for anyone who isn't pro-nuclear.

Right now most of germany is receptive to nuclear energy but not strongly pro-nuclear.

The sad thing is that democracies tend to have a lot of checks and balances and political limits for a reason: it's to stop any one group from temporarily gaining power and tyranizing the people. It's to prevent politicians from lying their way into office and then having open season. The problem is that these important factors can be exploited by a well organized political interest to turn the system against the people.