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3 Renewable Energy L. & Pol'y Rev. 217 (2012)
Energiewende nach Fukushima - Deutscher Sonderweg oder Weltweites Vorbild?

handle is hein.journals/relp2012 and id is 223 raw text is: Book Review I 217

Book Review

Energiewende nach Fukushima - Deutscher Sonder-
weg oder weltweites Vorbild? by Peter Hennicke and
Paul.. Welfens
Oekom Verlag, 2012, 284 pp., e29,95.
Peter Hennicke, President of the Wuppertal
Institute, and Paul Welfens, Professor for European
Economic Integration at the University of Wupper-
tal, have put together an extensive analysis of the
state of nuclear power in Germany following the
nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan in March
2011. While the country was not physically affect-
ed by the disaster, the psychological (and subse-
quently social, legal, and economic) effects were
significant in Germany. Hennicke and Welfens
trace the developments following Fukushima. For
German readers, this volume offers an early
attempt to assess whether Germany's nuclear-free
energy ambitions are a foolhardy distraction, or
whether they could serve as a vanguard example
for other countries.
The summer prior to Fukushima and against siz-
able public opposition, the conservative coalition
government of Germany, led by Angela Merkel,
successfully implemented changes to Germany's
energy laws, setting ambitious goals for the expan-
sion of renewable energy (35 % of electricity pro-
duction by 2020), but also extending the life of
the country's nuclear power plants - contravening
a planned 2024 phase-out implemented by the SPD-
Green coalition government in 2oo0. Following
the Fukushima disaster, the extensions granted to
the nuclear industry were no longer tenable, as
massive protests erupted across the country. The
subsequent revision of the energy law moved for-
ward the retirement of the nuclear facilities to 2022
and launched the word that has dominated dis-
cussions of Germany's energy policy ever since:
Energiewende. Not easily translated into English,
Energiewende is often rendered as the energy
turnaround; but is more appropriately called
Germany's energy transformation. Importantly,
Wende is a highly pregnant word in modern
German, as it is associated with the fall of the Berlin
Wall and the end of German Democratic Republic.
The connection here is clearly intended to under-
score the revolutionary aspect of this work.

In a series of dense and well-argued chapters,
Hennicke and Welfens lay out the full body of evi-
dence against nuclear power - focusing smartly on
the extensive, implicit subsidies that have propped
up the nuclear industry for decades and enabled the
industry to (falsely) claim that it provides inexpen-
sive energy. As the full costs of cleaning up and pay-
ing for (in terms of insurance claims and govern-
ment outlays) the Fukushima disaster are becoming
apparent, one estimate of the costs would equal the
equivalent of 6 % of Germany's GDP. Even if the
risks are remote, the implications of a nuclear disas-
ter in Germany (or in France or the Czech Republic)
would hardly be payable - and they would certain-
ly be borne by the State. In light of these implicit
risk guarantees, the authors focus then on the nec-
essary costs of transitioning the energy system
away from nuclear power and on to a path with
ever increasing amounts of renewables. If nuclear
facilities had to bare these insurance risks them-
selves, the authors calculate that renewables may
already be cost competitive.
Following this, the authors explore the ways in
which Germany can follow its current trajectory
with renewables. By staying the course, Germany
can help push along like-minded countries in
Europe (and elsewhere) by its sheer size. Were
Germany and its potential allies successful, this
could pull long many other countries to consider
a similar path. The importance of international
cooperation is underscored.
Also important is the extent to which individuals
would be engaged in the energy transformation.
To date, renewable energy is highly accepted in
Germany and elsewhere in Europe, due in no small
part to the fact that a sizeable minority of house-
holds (over 20 % by some estimates) have owner-
ship stakes in renewable energy facilities. While
this involvement has been sufficient to date to
ensure public acceptance, the authors investigate
the other ways that citizens can and will be
involved in the transition.
The penultimate chapter outlines the numerous
challenges and opportunities that have to be
addressed in order for Germany's energy transfor-
mation to take hold and to serve as a lighthouse
project for other countries. Some of these chal-

RELP 312012

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