German Nuclear Phaseout is Done Deal, Move On Already

Mark Lynas kindly discussed a bit about nuclear energy with me on Twitter, asking why I would oppose keeping nuclear on the grid in Germany while understanding it is a low carbon source.

Actually, I can’t recall having opposed keeping nuclear on the grid in Germany. But if one would ask for the reasons for such a position, here are a few.

For one, it would be a fringe minority loser position to call for reversing the nuclear phaseout in Germany. There is no party you could vote for in the next election. They were all united in voting for the phaseout last year.

I for one don’t think it is smart to base your climate activism on a strategy with zero chance for realization. And basic rules of democracy require respecting the will of the majority.

Next, I hate nuclear energy. My position was “shut down those filthy nuclear reactors” even back when I added “once the last fossil fuel power station is out of business”.

I’m not one of those guys who like the smell of uranium in their morning coffee. I dislike the big corporate structures, the necessity for strong security, the possibility to build nuclear weapons with plutonium. And I have watched the Fukushima explosions from rather close up.

I hate nuclear. The only question is if I would – barely – want to tolerate it for another couple of decades because I hate global warming even more.

Unfortunately, such a position is made much more difficult by the fact that most of the pro-nuclear voices think anti-renewable propaganda will help their case. Rod Adams with his “unreliables” term. Barry Brook and his merry band of anti-renewable propaganda peddlers. I hate this position, which I call the “Fossil Nukes”, even more than I hate nuclear in the first place.

So I might be tempted to actually oppose keeping nuclear on the grid in Germany, as Mark Lynas thought I already did.

But there is no point anyway. That is a done deal. At some point, the Fossil Nukes need to understand that their dreams of a nuclear renaissance in Germany just won’t happen and move on.

I am old enough to have actually seen on television the Wembley Goal, where the English team got a World Cup final win against Germany handed to them by referee incompetence, as proved later by a study of the Oxford university engineering department.

I don’t agree with that decision, but I have moved on. Time for the Fossil Nukes to move on as well.

Update: Energiewende Germany just kindly linked to this post with this Tweet, stating:

If you want others to get why Germany is rightly phasing out nuclear power,personal feelings don’t make compelling case

That is not my intention here. Actually, I have not even stated anywhere above that I support the phase-out myself. What I said is that it doesn’t matter any more.

My intention was to answer the question by Mark Lynas how I could understand that nuclear is a low carbon source and still “oppose keeping nuclear in the grid”. My answer to that was that I have not stated such an opposition, but if I were to do so, there are some reasons for me personally for that.

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003,

6 thoughts on “German Nuclear Phaseout is Done Deal, Move On Already

  1. The fossil-nuke proponents fail to see that energy is political.

    As such it moves out of the realm of the mere scientific or engineering questions to the economic and socially acceptable.

    For example; in Australia when you ask people if they are skeptical about AGW but support renewable energy anyway you get quite high numbers in favour.

    That seems like an avenue for decarbonising progress. (I believe results are similar in the US).

    Another thing often unsaid about nuclear promotion is that it has encouraged generations of people (especially in the US) to believe that it’s OK to live energy and resource wasteful lives. “Too cheap to meter” is really starting to bite in the US with inefficient appliances, heating, buildings and a wasteful approach to transport.

    In reality, nuclear is providing just 8.2% of energy in the US, but according to Rocky Mountain Institute the USofA could avoid wasting an easily accessible 40% of that energy burden. This, simply because they’ve all grown up believing energy will be “too cheap to meter”.

    In the UK, nuclear proponents are “selling” NPPs as almost a “fix all”, but it appears that the proposed new plant are asking for 100-140 pound-Sterling guarantees for the produced power. That would be up to 4 times dearer than the current baseload wholesale. It’s a similar problem in the USofA.

    It’s an economically and politically costly avenue that distracts from otherwise good will toward ownership of power production (personal PV, efficiency) and actually getting on with addressing economy-wide fossil fuel use problems, not JUST electricity.


  2. Also, believing in a nuclear bailout encourages people worried about global warming to either refrain from promoting renewable energy or even try to slow it down.

    I agree with that bit about working with people who don’t buy the science on AGW. I said so in my review of Amory Lovins’ “Reinventing Fire” book somewhere. Fossil fuel reserves are precious, some of them should be left for future generations.


    1. “I agree with that bit about working with people who don’t buy the science on AGW.”

      You are so right. These are the same people that have successfully created political gridlock. In my experience it IS possible to involve them in renewable energy choices, thus certainly helping.

      They generally won’t pay 4-6x times the baseload for nuclear however, even though they maybe agnostic.


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