October 22, 2012
Germans Still Support Dropping Nuclear Power, Regardless Of Consequences
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Despite rising costs and the threat of winter blackouts resulting from Germany's decision to start discontinuing the use of nuclear energy, the majority of that country's citizens support the government's decision to switch to renewable sources of energy, a new poll reveals.
Twenty-four percent opposed the move, according to the poll of 1,000 individuals, which was conducted by research firm Forsa. No margin of error was provided by the publication.
Those findings come on the result of an announcement earlier this month that grid operators would begin adding a surcharge on the electricity bills of all German households, the wire service said.
That additional fee will finance the expansion of renewable energy sources, but will increase the power bill of "a typical family of four" by an estimated $325 per year -- an increase of 47% -- starting in January.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel made the decision to close down the country's 17 nuclear reactors was made in the wake of the 2011 tsunami that led to a meltdown at Japanese nuclear reactors, according to an October 16 article by Melissa Eddy of the New York Times.
Merkel hopes that four-fifths of the country's electricity will come from renewable sources, such as solar or wind power, by 2050, Eddy said. However, that shift will come at a noticeable cost to German consumers.
"Germans already pay some of the highest electricity prices in Europe, at about 25 euro cents, or 32 U.S. cents, per kilowatt hour," the New York Times reporter explained. "By comparison, consumers in neighboring France, which draws 78 percent of its energy from nuclear power plants, pay about 14 euro cents, while Poles pay 15 euro cents, according to European Union statistics."
"The German price includes a surcharge that guarantees producers of energy from solar, wind, biofuels and other renewable sources a return on their investment above the market rate, which is widely credited with helping move the country to become a global leader in green technology," she added. "Next year, that subsidy will rise to 5.3 euro cents from 3.6 euro cents per kilowatt hour, hence the higher energy bills for German consumers."
An estimated 600,000 homes had their power turned off in 2011 because they could not pay their energy bills, Eddy reported, and Matthew Day of the UK newspaper The Telegraph said that many others could lose power over the winter due to blackouts caused by the switch away from nuclear power.
"Filling the void left by fossil fuels and nuclear power however has already placed a strain on existing capacity in the national grid," Day said in an October 15 report. "During a cold snap in February last year the pressure on electricity capacity in the Hamburg region pushed the grid to breaking point and forced some heavy industry plants to shut down."
"Despite significant investment in wind and solar power Germany still faces an energy shortfall, and is also hamstrung by a lack of north-south power lines shifting electricity generated in North Sea wind farms to the industrial centers in the south," he added. "Experts have warned that another hard winter coupled with little sunshine and wind, thus making wind and solar power redundant, could lead to blackouts."