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IEA: German Plan To Replace Nuclear Ambitious, Not Impossible

Published Thursday, 16th June 2011 04:43 pm - © 2011 Dow Jones


SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia -(Dow Jones)- Germany's plan to accelerate its exit from nuclear power and replace it largely with renewable energy sources isn't impossible, but is ambitious and won't come without cost, a senior official with the International Energy Agency said Wednesday.

"It's not impossible, but it's more challenging, more difficult and will be more expensive," Laszlo Varro, head of the IEA's gas, coal and power division, told a briefing at the start of the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum.

"The question is not whether Germany can replace nuclear power, but whether it can replace nuclear power and decrease carbon dioxide emissions at the same time," he said.

Facing a massive public backlash against nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan in March, German Chancellor Angela Merkel abandoned her plans to prolong the lifetime of the country's nuclear power stations and instead largely restored an original plan to end all nuclear generation by 2022. Some older plants will be decommissioned well before then.

Germany, which is Europe's largest national energy market, now intends to raise the share of renewable power in its power supply mix to 35%, to fill the gap left by nuclear power.

Varro said the country will need a major expansion and overhaul of its national transmission system to achieve its goal. Many of the nuclear power plants that are to be replaced are in southern Germany, whereas the bulk of the wind capacity that the country is planning to build is off its North Sea and Baltic coasts. The government has already said it intends to push through a radical simplification of licensing and permissioning processes to make this possible.

-By Geoffrey T. Smith, Dow Jones Newswires (+44) 758 427 1612; geoffrey.smith@dowjones.com

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