• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
German consumers still hot for nuclear power
Blue skies for nuclear power again? Photo: DPA

German consumers still hot for nuclear power

The Local · 12 Dec 2014, 12:16

Published: 12 Dec 2014 12:16 GMT+01:00

In the first week, Maxenergy poached 3,000 customers from the competition after its new offer launch on December 1 - the day the UN climate change summit opened in Peru. 
 
"Several hundred" applications were being received every day, a company spokesperson told Die Welt newspaper.
 
Generated and imported from two nuclear plants in Switzerland, the electricity isn't markedly cheaper than other options. But it is cleaner and safer, argues the company, which is a subsidiary of the Augsburg-based mineral oil trader Sailer. 
 
Meanwhile, Germany's Association for Environment and Nature (BUND) condemned the offer as "immoral and scandalous", arguing that national energy policy should aim instead to become more efficient to meet demand, rather than generating more.
 
Safe or not?
 
The apparent rush to sign up would seem to fly against Germany's green face, especially after Angela Merkel's government pledge to give up nuclear energy after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.
 
But despite the legacy of this accident and those at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, the company insists nuclear power is still the safer option: "There is a big difference between perceived and real threats," the spokesman said. 
 
It also emphasizes the individual savings on emissions nuclear power consumers can make, claiming it reduces their carbon footprint on average by two tonnes of emissions a year to 20 kilos.
 
However, the initial enthusiasm for the nuclear supply doesn't denote a firm trend. Many customers make some savings by switching providers occasionally to benefit from newcomer offers.
 
And nuclear power providers in 2013 still saw their share of the German market fall from 17.6 to 15.4 percent, while coal accounted for 45 percent of German energy.
 
Germany last year burned seven percent more coal than in 2012, increasing its carbon dioxide emissions by two percent, or by 20 million tonnes of emissions.
 
Boost from emissions struggle 
 
All of which complicates ongoing efforts to reduce CO2 emissions worldwide. Germany aims by 2020 to reduce its CO2 emissions by 40 percent compared to 1990 levels, and by 80 percent by 2050.
 
During this week's UN climate change summit in Peru, attended by ministers from 195 countries, environmental organisations criticised Germany for 'losing leadership' regarding climate protection in Europe.
 
According to their survey of 58 countries' progress in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, the ecological groups Germanwatch and Climate Action Network said Germany has played a less constructive role in the European energy debate in the last year. This year they ranked Germany in 19th place, down from eighth place in 2013.
 
Amid international tensions over Ukraine, nuclear providers can also benefit from anxiety at Germany's heavy reliance on Russia for energy imports.
 
More than a third of Germany's oil and gas come from Russia, as well as one quarter of its coal. A quick restructuring to other sources like liquified natural gas imports from the United States is also not possible due to the infrastructure need. 
 
But the 'clean' nature of nuclear power is also under closer scrutiny after a slew of recent reports about the amount of radioactive waste Germany must dispose of. Estimates were doubled recently, amid reports of dilapidated storage facilities where drums of radioactive waste had corroded so badly they couldn't be moved. 
 
Story continues below…
Meanwhile, Maxenergy's website highlights pro-nuclear statements by established ecologists.
 
"Nuclear energy is without doubt still the most effective and efficient way of reducing use of fossil fuel sources," it quotes Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore as saying. 
 
From regarding nuclear energy as an 'evil' synonymous with nuclear war in the 1970s, Moore became an advocate of the power source after he left Greenpeace in 1986.
 
While it tries to balance the shift from nuclear power to other forms and still meet its emissions reductions, the German government is pushing energy saving as one avenue.
 
The Environment Ministry recently raised energy saving issues - and some eyebrows - with a racy energy-saving campaign aimed at young people.
 
 

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Germany says 'won't let anyone take Europe from us'
Steinmeier called the European Union “a successful project of peace and stability”. Photo: DPA

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Saturday that the EU would weather the shock of the British vote to leave the union as he convened crisis talks.

Brexit vote
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
A sign in Berlin's tech giant and startup-building company Rocket Internet. Photo: DPA.

London is currently thought of as the main hub for startups in Europe, but that will all turn around when the UK leaves the EU, tech industry experts say.

Brexit vote - Analysis
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
British Leave campaigners celebrate Brexit result. Photo: DPA

Britain leaving the EU means trouble ahead for Germany - and its hardest task will be convincing the Brits to drop a self-defeating ideology, a leading foreign policy expert told The Local.

How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Photo: DPA.

Considering a change of passport after the UK's vote to ditch the EU? Here’s how to do it.

Germany makes fracking verboten
A sign in North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA.

German lawmakers approved a law that essentially bans fracking, ending years of dispute over the controversial technology to release oil and gas locked deep underground.

Brexit vote
German far right 'cries for joy' after UK votes to leave EU
Left to right: AfD's Beatrix von Storch and Frauke Petry. Photo: DPA

The far-right AfD party called for a "new Europe" and the resignation of the EU's top two politicians in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Brexit vote
Merkel: Brexit has cut into European unity
Angela Merkel at a press conference after the Brexit vote on Friday. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that the UK's decision to leave the EU has created a "cut in Europe" and the project of European unity.

Couple copulating on bridge shut down Autobahn
Kaiserlei Bridge in Frankfurt. Photo: Dontworry / Wikimedia Commons.

It was a highly unusual choice of location for a romantic rendezvous, police in Frankfurt point out.

Brexit vote
Germany: Brexit vote is a 'sad day for Europe'
A British flag along with other flags of European Union member countries flies in front of the European Council building in Strasbourg, France. Photo: EPA.

Top German leaders declared that it was a "sad day for Europe" after British voters opted to leave the European Union.

Viernheim hostage-taker wasn't carrying lethal weapon
A police officer stands guard in front of the cinema in Viernheim. Photo: DPA

The 19-year-old German man who took over a dozen people hostage in a cinema in western Germany on Thursday was carrying replica weapons, prosecutors have confirmed.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
US expats: Taxes are due June 15th
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Gallery
7 photos which show the aftermath of Bavaria's Autobahn bridge collapse
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Sport
How to sound like an expert on German football this summer
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Features
6 reasons Germany's summer is unbeatable for thrill-seekers
National
The future belongs to these 10 German regions
Society
How pictures of footballers on chocolates made Pegida really mad
Health
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
National
Bayer's Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
7,902
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd