Chancellor Angela Merkel in March ordered the halting of Germany’s seven oldest reactors following a meltdown that month at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant caused by an earthquake and tsunami. That’s out of 17 reactors that accounted for 23 percent of national power generation last year, according to the BDEW utility-industry group in Berlin.
“In the second half of 2011, it seems that an increase in coal burn will be the only choice for Germany in order to offset the loss of nuclear power,” Judy Zhu, an analyst at Standard Chartered in Shanghai, said in a report today. “It is unlikely that Germany will substantially increase power imports from its neighbors, as we understand the interconnectors are not able to handle much additional power.”
The German Cabinet approved plans this week to close all nuclear-power plants nationwide by 2022. The country was Europe’s biggest coal consumer after Russia last year, according to data from BP Plc today. Germany burned 76.5 million metric tons of oil equivalent, or 16 percent of all coal burned in Europe and Eurasia, the data show.
Germany’s plan to abandon nuclear energy poses a risk to peak electricity supply in Europe, according to Pierre Gadonneix, chairman of the World Energy Council. He’s also a former chief executive officer of Electricite de France SA, operator of the country’s 58 nuclear reactors and the biggest European power generator.
“What is happening in Germany is not neutral for the electricity balance in Europe,” Gadonneix said in an interview on France’s BFM radio station on June 6. “There’s always a risk. We have peak capacity in Europe that doesn’t have much redundancy, now we reduce it, so we increase the risk.”
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