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Energy policy of Germany after Fukushima

September 26, 2012

Dear friend of Technical English,

There are several posts at this blog devoted to power engineering. In order to gain more details concerning the topic visit About the blog. There you will find the full list of such posts. Because of interest to the subject another new technical text is offered below for studying and discussing. Improve your Technical English, enrich your vocabulary in this area, write comments expressing your opinion about the future of electricity supply. Indicate your opinion on  renewables VS nuclear power plants. Uncover new technical terms in TrainTE Vocabulary


Germany’s energy policy after Fukushima

 Composed by Galina Vitkova

Energy Concept 2010

Before FukushimaGermany had ambitious energy targets. Its Energy Concept 2010 approved an extension of the operating times of the 17 German nuclear power plants (NPPs) as a bridging technology for renewable energy supply.

The energy and climate package of 26 November 2010 (Energy Concept 2010) comprised four key elements:

  1. Allocating additional generation quantities to the German nuclear power plants, leading to an average extension of the plants operating time of 12 years;
  2. Adding provisions for the transposition of the Directive 2009/71/Euratom, containing further safety requirements for nuclear power plants. Member States should have brought into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive by 22 July 2011;
  3. Approving (on 28. 09. 2010) the new nuclear fuel rod tax law introducing a tax on nuclear fuel rods, aimed at raising EUR 2.3 billion per year;
  4. Approving (also on 28. 09. 2010) the law on a new Energie- und Klimafonds (Energy and Climate Fund – EKFG), creating the special energy and climate fund for the promotion of environmentally friendly, reliable and affordable energy supply.
Map in French of the German nuclear power plants

Map in French of the German nuclear power plants (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Energy policy shift 2011

Legislative changes following the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan in 2011 (energy policy shift 2011) stopped the nuclear extension. An amendment of the Atomic Energy Act (AtG) stipulated the immediate shutdown of eight power plants and set down a phase-out of the remaining nine nuclear power plants until 2022.

Under these circumstances the German Energy Agency (dena) presented a new study examining the consequences of the German energy policy shift and challenges lying ahead. The Agency predicts that electricity prices will considerably rise until 2050 and conventional power plants will still be needed to a large extent to ensure the security of supply and balance relative to the increasing amount of intermittent renewable energy input.

The intermittence of photovoltaics (PV), for instance, is illustrated on http://www.sma.de/en/company/pv-electricity-produced-in-germany.html, Performance of Photovoltaics (PV) in Germany.  On the site you can see at any time the total output of all PV plants in Germany installed up to the specified cut-off date. At present the total installed capacity of PV plants in Germany amounts to 29 GW. The examples of their generation in profit (in 2012) and low (in 2011) yield days are given in the table below (see also Intermittence of renewables).

Low yield days

Profit yield days

01.01.2011 3 GWh 0.1 hours daily 25.05.2012 179 GWh 6 hours daily
17.03.2011 8 GWh 0.28 hours daily 24.05.2012 165 GWh 6.7 hours daily
30.07.2011 37 GWh 1.28 hours daily 27.06.2012 119 GWh 4 hours daily

 The study was carried out related to the Germany’s target to increase the share of renewable energy sources in the electricity supply to at least 80% until 2050.  When preparing the study dena cooperated with the RWTHAachenUniversity. The study was accepted by RWE AG.

According to the study the installed power capacity in Germany will amount to 240 GW in 2050 in total, with 170 GW of renewable power plants and 61 GW provided by conventional fossil-fuelled power plants. It means that conventional capacity will only decrease by 37% compared with 2010. By 2050 efficient gas and coal-fired power plants will provide roughly 60% of secure electricity supply, whereas renewable power plants deliver 24%.

To ensure the security of electricity supply 49 GW of new conventional power plant capacity is needed preferably by 2020, at the latest by 2030.

According to dena unless additional power plants are built, Germany will import approximately 134 TWh or 22% of the electricity consumed by 2050.

In view of the above need for new conventional power plants and possible imports, the expansion of the grid infrastructure including the connection of offshore wind farms, spinning reserve energy and new storage capacity, enlargement of the existing distribution and transmission grids electricity prices will greatly rise until 2050.

Functioning internal European electricity market

As of 2020 it will increasingly come to situations in which the renewable power production exceeds the demand. The excess of renewable electricity for which there is no demand in Germany or abroad may reach 66 TWh or 15% of the electricity generated in Germany until 2050. So, without a new market design, renewables would not be competitive by 2050. The Agency therefore demands a complete overhaul of the EEG that promotes the input of renewable energy into the German grids by granting fixed feed-in tariffs. These tariffs are higher than the electricity prices at the exchanges. For these reasons it proposes a European capacity market to encourage and stimulate investments in power plants that provide secure capacities.

Nuclear power plant "Kernkraftwerk Emslan...

Nuclear power plant “Kernkraftwerk Emsland” (Photo credit: flokru)


AtG – Atomic Energy Act (Atomgesetz – AtG)
dena – German Energy Agency
EEG – Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Act
EKFG – Energy and Climate Fund (In Germany)
NPP – nuclear power plant
PV – photovoltaics


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