Hitachi- from the country that brought the world Fukushima

Hitachi- from the country that brought the world Fukushima
We feel very sad for the people of Japan who want to end nuclear energy whilst a potential new government and big business are desperate for it

No Fukushima at Oldbury

No to Fukushima at Shepperdine!

No to Fukushima at Shepperdine!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Energy security.?...You must be joking!!!!

Please read this article from Der Speigel and realise that the German power companies are threatening their own government because they do not want to help the rest of society in Germany by paying small additional taxes on nuclear energy to keep the existing power plants open.

This is truely shocking and we will be asking our politicans to look at the role of Eon and RWE in the British economy.

They are being tantamount to highway robbers in Germany!

Merkel Tries to Regain Upper Hand in Energy Debate

By Katharina Peters

Before the financial crisis, Angela Merkel liked to present herself as the "climate chancellor," pushing for CO2 cuts and posing with glaciers. Now, with nuclear energy dominating the energy debate in Germany, Merkel has sought to turn back the clock.

The sky hung low and gray over Krempin, a small town in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern -- not exactly ideal weather for a photo op. Nevertheless, Chancellor Angela Merkel posed gamely for the cameras as someone handed her a sunflower. At least the wind was blowing -- she was here, after all, to visit a wind park.

Then the sky cleared, and the sun even started shining. Merkel's photo-op was saved.

Krempin was the first stop on Merkel's four-day "energy tour" of Germany. The chancellor wanted to find out for herself "where we are strong and what still needs to be done," in the words of her government spokesman. The tour, which will take in wind farms, hydroelectric facilities and nuclear power plants, is being sold as something of an educational field trip.

Tiresome Debate

Behind all the nice-sounding spin lies a transparent political motivation. The chancellor wants to show that energy is once again a top priority for her. And she wants to distance herself from the tiresome debate about nuclear energy in Berlin, which is currently dominating the newspapers with all its tricky technical details about extending the lifespan of nuclear power plants and imposing a fuel-rod tax. The pictures of a beaming chancellor in front of wind turbines are just the thing to distract attention from the negative headlines.

The wind farm in Krempin, the first stop on the tour, was perfect for Merkel's purposes. Local residents are involved with the facility, which has been dubbed a "citizens' wind farm." The plant produces electricity for the local community of Carinerland as part of its efforts to become self-sufficient and is seen as a model project.

The locals had erected a white marquee tent. Children presented the chancellor with small plastic windmills. The Green Party may have criticized the event as a "show," but it was a show that fulfilled its purpose. The German government considers wind power to be the most important renewable resource for the future. By 2050, half of Germany's electricity will be generated from wind power, according to government plans.

Dusting Off Her Former Image

It's no coincidence that Wednesday also saw the publication of the new issue of Greenpeace Magazin, which contains an article by the chancellor praising the work of the environmental organization. "We are united by our common concern with preserving the natural environment, particularly in the fight against climate change," Merkel wrote in the magazine, which is widely read in Germany.

With the new initiative, Merkel is dusting off her former image as the "climate chancellor." Three years ago, Merkel surprised Germany and the world with her ambitious goals for battling climate change. She urged the European Union to take action and spoke of an "important crossroads," saying that "economics and ecology can be reconciled." She persuaded then-US President George W. Bush to at least make some small concessions and posed for photographs in front of Greenland's glaciers, wearing a red outdoor jacket.

But then the financial and economic crises came along, and the supposed visionary changed her tune. Suddenly, no decisions could be taken on climate change that would "threaten German jobs or investments," as Merkel put it in 2008. Since then, she has refrained from presenting any more bold plans for saving the climate.

New Energy Strategy to Be Unveiled

Even worse, the issue of nuclear power has been dominating the public debate on energy for the last few months. After Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen (CDU) announced in February that the operating lives of nuclear power stations should not be extended by more than eight years, a heated debate was sparked within the coalition government, especially within Merkel's own party, the center-right Christian Democratic Union.

A 2002 law passed by the government of then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder mandates that all of Germany's nuclear reactors should be shut down by the beginning of the next decade, but Merkel's party has long been interested in extending the lifespans of reactors. Germany's leading power companies insist that nuclear power is a vital part of the country's energy mix and warn that the country could face shortages if all nuclear reactors are shut down over the coming years.

The government is due to present its new energy strategy at the end of September, and Merkel is determined to regain the initiative before that deadline. Her spokesperson explained that nuclear power will only be one part of the energy mix to be unveiled in the new strategy -- the focus will be much more on the expansion of renewable energy. That approach is also laid down in the coalition agreement that Merkel's conservatives signed with the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) after last September's general election. It is the message that Merkel wanted to send with her photo-op amid the windmills of northern Germany.

Germans tend to be suspicious of nuclear energy, and the majority opposes keeping nuclear reactors in operation for longer than is planned. A recent poll revealed that 48 percent of people do not want any extension of reactor lifespans, while just 29 percent support an extension of a maximum of 10 years. A massive 77 percent oppose keeping the reactors running for an additional 15 years or longer.

Not So Photogenic

It's a debate that Merkel will not be able to avoid, no matter how many skillfully stage-managed visits to wind farms, hydroelectric plants, environmentally friendly heating plants and energy-efficient houses she makes during her energy tour.

After all, she will also be visiting a nuclear power plant in Lower Saxony next week. The pictures from that event will be less pretty -- it's doubtful that local children will be presenting the chancellor with models of miniature nuclear power plants. Merkel's talks there are also likely to be less pleasant. She will be meeting the bosses of the energy giants E.on and RWE, the same companies that recently threatened to immediately shut down their nuclear plants should the government go ahead with its plans to introduce a "fuel-rod tax" on reactors. The chancellor responded at the time by calling the move an unhelpful "threatening gesture."

It is not clear, however, when the German government is going to decide on the fuel-rod tax, which would bring in a predicted €2.3 billion ($2.9 billion) in annual revenues. The controversial tax was originally part of a draft law for the government's austerity package, which the cabinet is supposed to approve on Sept. 1.

Environment Minister Röttgen announced on Wednesday, however, that the decision would be delayed by several weeks. But the Finance Ministry immediately contradicted him, saying they would continue to assume that the fuel-rod tax will be approved at the beginning of September.

In any case, there is still plenty of time left to discuss energy. Unfortunately for Merkel, it will be nuclear power that continues to dominate the debate.

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