By Joe Mellor, In house Reporter
The rise of a new German power, which repulses the UK Government, normally sends a shiver down the spine of an Englishman.
However, in this case it is renewable energy, something that powered 25.1% of their economy in the first half of 2012.
Prompted by Japan’s 2011 Fukushima disaster, Chancellor Merkel vowed to shut down nuclear plants and wean the country off fossil fuels.
No such luck back in Blighty, “gorgeous” George has secured a deal that might (or might not) bring down energy bills in the future.
He has allowed a French/Chinese state-owned consortium to build the first nuclear power station constructed in Europe since the disaster in the Far East.
We should all be very grateful.
Nuclear power has made more political comebacks than Peter Mandelson, but toxic Mandy probably has a longer half-life.
The government’s agreement to underwrite the £16 billion Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset has been called “economically insane” by City analysts Liberum Captial.
Analysts at the firm said: “Having considered the known terms of the deal, we are flabbergasted that the UK government has committed future generations of consumers to the costs that will flow from this deal.”
The view from Germany hasn’t been much more positive. Claudia Roth, incoming deputy speaker of the German Bundestag said: “Fukushima proved that Chernobyl – nuclear meltdown in 1986 – was not an exception unique to old Soviet plants but a fact of the industry.”
However, PM Cameron doesn’t share these concerns, he said: “By investing in nuclear power stations we actually increase the chance that bills will be lower than otherwise would have been if we didn’t invest.”
However, you don’t need to be one of the Eggheads to know the opposite is true. They are also increasing the chance bills will be higher than they would have been. It’s a high stakes gamble.
The fact that other nations are building this power station is looked upon in a positive light in government, with secretary of state for energy Ed Davey stating: “For the first time, a nuclear station in this country will not have been built with money from the British taxpayer.”
That is nothing to brag about. I would feel much safer if foreign investors were installing solar panels rather than a potentially lethal nuclear plant.
Even NIMBYs would probably prefer a view of a wind farm over a nuclear reactor from their conservatory window.
Basically, the Chinese and French states will own the reactor. The Tories have said that as the UK government debt is 88 per cent of GDP, we the taxpayers can’t own Britain’s nuclear industry (and that Royal Mail must be privatised, schools, and hospitals must be built under PFI etc.)
However, French debt is 92 per cent of GDP, but they can own our nuclear industry.
Over in Germany, during the next 27 years they will spend 550 billion euro on renewable technologies in the hope of attaining 80 per cent renewable energy by 2050. It has been called the world’s first major renewable energy economy.
It does come at a price though.
German energy bills are already the third highest in the EU (UK bills are the 13th highest out of the 27 member states).
Maybe we should stop complaining, we have it pretty good. Get that thermostat on now.
The price of choosing green energy is high at the outset. Also the cost of shutting down Germany’s nuclear generators has been astronomical.
Renewable technology is no quick fix, but a long term strategy to have a stable energy industry that doesn’t rely on Russian gas or Arab oil is appealing.
During the UK’s economic boom we laughed at Germany’s steady property market, traditional banking methods and devotion to its manufacturing base. It was seen as an antiquated way to run a modern economy. But as ever, they proved to be shrewd decisions makers, riding out the global economic slump with no major crisis.
For once we should follow their lead. We need to become independent, not more dependent in our energy sector as natural resources begin to dry up.
In the coming decades Germany will have a power sector dominated by green energy, owned by themselves, at little cost to them or the environment.
To paraphrase Morrissey “theirs is a light that will never go out.”
We might not be so lucky.