German energy policy slammed by E.ON boss

Germany‘s post-Fukushima energy policy came under fire from the chief executive of E.ON Generation yesterday, writes Kelvin Ross.

Delivering one of the keynote speeches at the opening session of POWER-GEN Europe in Cologne, Bernhard Fischer said that “no expert was asked and no risk assessment was done” prior to the government decision to withdraw from nuclear power and instead boost renewable capacity.

Bernhard FischerHe said that in the last decade Germany had tried to be a “pacemaker in the world”, yet after Fukushima, “everything that had been achieved” regarding the life extentions of the country’s nuclear fleet had been “undone”.

And he asked what had been the result of this decision? “No risk was reduced. No new strategy was implemented.” All that was achieved, he said, was that “politicians proved that they could make a decision… and the public appreciated this.”

à‚ He said the surge of renewable capacity coming online before 2021 was “volatile” and added that conventional plants had a “huge challenge” to compensate for the intermittancy of this power.

This was leading to a massive overhaul of the grid system which he said was, for the first time, being driven by “pure need and restrictions” and not profitability.

Earlier during the opening session, the first keynote speaker, Laszlo Varro, the head of the International Energy Agency’s Gas, Coal and Power Division, compared the size of the task needed to overhaul the grid system to “building the Autobahns in th 1960s”. And the final speaker, Siemens Energy’s chief executive Michael Suess, echoed Fischer’s fears about renewables. He said there was a strong case for the use of renewables, but added that use must be dictated by where there is the greatest demand, where they are geograhically possible, and where their results can be guaranteed

Fischer said the German energy policy was not “technically impossible” but to acheive its aims it needed “co-ordination, co-ordination, co-ordination and time, money and acceptance”.

Without this, he said the policy “was just a vision” and wondered if it was a vision in which Germany’s power sector would be able to survive.

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