Yesterday the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, announced a bold plan to slash the use of fossil fuels by 2050. The plan calls for renewable energy to supply 60% of the country’s energy needs by 2050.
As the environment minister Norbert Röttgen stated, it is “the most ambitious energy programme ever seen, not only in Germany”.
The plan will also extend the life of nuclear power plants by an average of twelve years. Nuclear plants built before 1980 will be able to operate eight years longer than planned, and plants built after 1980 will produce electricity up to 14 years longer. This will enable the country to close its last nuclear reactor sometime in the 2030’s.
Although it is an unpopular move locally, as Germans strongly oppose nuclear, this decision will enable nuclear to be a bridging technology between today’s electricity generation which relies heavily on coal and lignite (more than 40 percent) and the future.
This will also bring important sums of money to finance renewable energy projects as the operators of the nuclear power plants will pay large taxes. More will be needed as the Financial Times notes
The government reckons it will cost Germany an annual €20bn until 2050 to reduce emissions by four-fifths compared with 1990, and to raise the share of electricity from renewable sources from 16 per cent to 80 per cent.
Germany also plans to invest massively in energy efficiency and smart grids. It is planning to cut its greenhouse gases emissions by 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.
Not all European nations are acting the same on energy, climate change and cleantech policies.