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RWE boss warns of industrial decline from nuclear phaseout

The Local · 10 Jun 2011, 13:41

Published: 10 Jun 2011 13:41 GMT+02:00

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Jürgen Großmann, a vocal critic of Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to end Germany’s reliance on nuclear energy by 2022, told the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung the country was jeopardizing its economic foundation.

“Politicians would do well to review their actions, and consequences for the price of electricity," he told the paper. "Consumers will pay more and many companies will think twice about whether they are in good hands in Germany.”

Nuclear energy provided nearly a quarter of Germany’s power before a temporary moratorium was put in place this spring following the Japanese atomic disaster in Fukushima.

Much of it that power is produced by RWE, which operates four nuclear plants around the county.

Some scientists have argued Germany can transition to other forms of power relatively smoothly without electricity shortages and price increases.

But Großmann, who has been a leading critic of the centre-right government’s reversal on nuclear energy, said power cuts were possible due to the country’s overloaded electricity grid, which will be under more pressure under Merkel’s plans.

“The danger is real,” he told the newspaper. “Blackouts are possible if stability decreases in the network.”

He said that spiking energy prices could lead to a “de-industrialization” of Germany as businesses head to cheaper countries.

If government policies remain the same, “we will soon have to give up entire industries,” he said. “Companies such as BASF and ThyssenKrupp will no longer be here.”

Großmann also argued that political pressure was making it difficult for energy firms to do business in Germany, driving down RWE’s stock prices and increasing the likelihood of a hostile takeover.

Story continues below…

He also warned that RWE will try to invest abroad in the future.

“Growth is for us now is elsewhere,” Großmann said.

The Local/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:54 June 10, 2011 by Bill Simpson
If you keep the nukes, be sure to have enough diesel fuel AT THE PLANT to keep the generators running in order to run the cooling pumps when a coronal mass ejection from the Sun hits and disables the power grid for a few months. The refineries will be down without electric power, so you can't plan on fuel deliveries after the CME hits. Without those generators running the cooling pumps, the reactor cores will melt. Future reactors may be better designed. Don't think it can't happen. That is what the Japanese thought. Germany is too densely populated to create a lot of new permanent 'parks'. Natural gas fired generators might work, but would have more risks than diesel generators, all at the plant site. The grid failure could eventually take the pipelines down, or someone might decide to keep the gas for themselves.
14:57 June 10, 2011 by trash head
Hmmm, in France are 58 plants still running, Maybe he can hire there to manage something and get sure that france export more energy to germany then to import it from germany, else the frenchies face an energy cut this summer or autumn.
16:02 June 10, 2011 by hanskarl
Finally, someone with clear thinking!!
16:34 June 10, 2011 by harcourt
I do hope the arguments between the pro and contra camps on atomic and renewable energy sources doesn't go on and on. The fact is that a firm decision has to be made urgently - for the sake of German industry. As we all know a lot of the decision making is purely for political reasons without thinking of the good of the country.
16:38 June 10, 2011 by Kayak
I follow you Bill; like me you seem to be a reader of poular science!

But if we both know about about solar maxima and minima and the likely effects of a direct hit over the next 11 years then surely the designers and officials responsible for the nuclear power generation rulebook also know.

Am I wrong to trust those that do the real work? They must read New Scientist as well!
05:38 June 11, 2011 by Bill Simpson
@ Kayak Trust me as a veteran of Hurricanes Betsy and Katrina. If you live above 35 degrees latitude, and you hear that a major CME is heading our way from NASA or the ESA, get as far south as you can. Civilization WILL collapse in the areas without electric power within 3 days, and you will be TRAPPED there without food, water or heat in the coming winter. Fill up your car, grab valuable records, get as much cash as you can, take your clothes, and GET OUT if you can.
20:28 June 11, 2011 by atomikrabbit
Bill and Kayak ­ I don¦#39;t know how far south you will want to go ­ the 1859 event was experienced as auroras overhead in Havana.

As for the nukes, I can¦#39;t speak for BWRs (the Fukushima design), but every PWR I know of has steam-driven auxiliary feedwater pumps that use the reactor decay heat to supply water for core cooling. All the valves in the system fail to the required condition on loss of power. So if there is enough heat to make steam, it is powering its own makeup water supply. And the design has the heat source (reactor core) below the heat sink (steam generators) so that natural circulation due to density difference is passively established. Loss of all AC procedures are routinely practiced by the operators. Although they are very nice to have, no electricity from diesels or offsite are necessarily required for a long time.

I¦#39;ll bet even with all their recent coverage, you never heard about that on CNN.
14:40 June 14, 2011 by maxbrando
Just as Germany counts on the U.S.A. to defend it, Germans believe they can count on France to supply it with nuclear-generated electricity. Forget it. It's not going to happen. (And American soldiers and families are going home soon. All of them are closing: Grafenwoehr, Wiesbaden and Kaiserslautern It's in the works already.)
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