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To Replace Nuclear Power Plants Scheduled to be Shut DownAngela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, announced that her country would need to build a lot of fossil fuel power plants to pick up the slack from nuclear power plants that are scheduled to be shut down. She said: "If we want to exit nuclear energy and enter renewable energy, for the transition time we need fossil power plants. At least 10, more likely 20 gigawatts [of fossil capacity] need to be built in the coming 10 years."
The new power stations will be both gas- and coal-fired, Ms. Merkel said, adding that at the same time Germany wants to stick to its target of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 40% by 2020 from 1990 levels.
Michael Mueller, from the German Federation for Nature, said the climate targets can't be achieved if the additional fossil-fuel capacity were to be built, pointing to the energy industry's emissions calculations.
The switch-off of the first seven of Germany's 17 nuclear power stations will add some 25 million metric tons a year to the country's carbon-dioxide emissions, the International Energy Agency said in May.
This is very unfortunate because massive coal plants and natural gas plants aren't built to be used only a few years. This new dirty electricity production capacity will no doubt stick around for a few decades, adding that much more CO2 (and other air pollutants) to the atmosphere.
It might have been better to keep Germany's existing nuclear power plants operational and do a thorough safety review so that they can be used until a transition to renewables can be done directly (without having to build a large amount of new fossil fuel plants). Fukushima is a disaster, but it was avoidable, and adding billions of tons of CO2 to the atmosphere isn't without consequences either.
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