Siemens: Nuclear Power Shutdown To Cost Germany $2,150,000,000,000.00 (2.15 Trillion)!

Have you ever been to a dinner party with lots of people when suddenly a mouse runs across the room and someone yells “mouse!” Most people simply ignore the intrusion, while others may ask “where?” But you can always count on someone flying into a fit of hysteria, jumping up on a table screaming and shaking violently until the medics arrive and shoot the person up with a massive dose of tranquilizers before wheeling the sedated patient to the nearest hospital for overnight obsevation. Irrational? Yes.That was pretty much how German politicians and media reacted in the wake of Fukushima. As the rest of the world watched with concern, and had their reactors checked over for good measure, Germany flipped out and plunged into a wave mass panic not seen since Orson Welles’ radio adaptation of War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells on October 30, 1938. After Fukushima, Germany immediately shut down 8 of its older reactors and then rammed through a law ordering the remaining 9 reactors be shut down as soon as possible.

That bout of total irrationality and panicked decision-making is now going to cost Germany a bundle, so estimates engineering giant Siemens AG here. Hat-tip Benny Peiser.

According to Reuters:

Germany’s exit from nuclear power could cost the country as much as 1.7 trillion  euros ($2.15 trillion) by 2030, or two thirds of the country’s GDP in 2011,  according to Siemens (SIEGn.DE),  which built all of Germany’s 17 nuclear plants.”

If that does not bankrupt something, nothing will. Germany wants to switch over to renewable energy. How much will that impact global temperatures? A few hundreths of a degree?

The estimate from Siemens makes some assumptions. Reuters writes:

The estimate of 1.7 trillion euros assumes strong expansion of renewables, with feed-in tariffs as the biggest chunk of costs. The cost would be lower — at about 1.4 billion euros — if gas was one of the major energy alternatives, Suess said.

The estimates given by Siemens factor in feed-in tariffs — costs that utilities have to pay to generators of renewable energy — investments into power transmission and distribution, operations and maintenance as well as technologies to store renewable energy and carbon dioxide.”

Siemens’ estimate is much higher than the 250-300 billion euros estimate given earlier by power plant executives. In the end, the price increase will be paid by the consumer, both private and business. This will hardly make Germany an attractive place to work (which is an activity that requires energy).

So it’s little wonder that businesses are calling it quits in Germany and moving to places that are more business friendly and energy is cheaper.

Don’t take my word for it. According to CO2 Handel here, comnpanies now see Germnany as a risk:

Rising energy and raw material prices are the top risks for Germany as a place to do business. Also 58% of companies fear that power outages. Since switching off 8 nuclear power reactors, power plants are have to switch on and off faster than ever before.”

 

 

12 responses to “Siemens: Nuclear Power Shutdown To Cost Germany $2,150,000,000,000.00 (2.15 Trillion)!”

  1. Hans Labohm

    I am puzzled.

    Exit from nuclear power costs 1.7 trillion euros. But with gas as one of the major alternatives it could be 1.4 billion euros cheaper.

    Of course 1.4 billion is peanuts compared with 1.7 trillion.

    So I doubt whether these figures are correct.

    Hans Labohm

    1. Ulrich Elkmann

      Of course, the usual thing happened:
      “Die deutsche Billion ist unter anderem ein falscher Freund der US-amerikanischen billion, die der deutschen Milliarde entspricht. Dies führt häufig zu Fehlübersetzungen, insbesondere im unwissenschaftlichen Journalismus bei der Angabe von Kosten oder Vermögen.”
      http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billion

      - billion eine Milliarde – der milliardste (the billionth)
      An American billion is a German Milliarde. A German Billion is an American “trillion.”
      - trillion eine Billion – der billionste (the trillionth)
      Though one gets the feeling that it’s all the same to them, anyway. Some “primitive tribes” are reported to have no words for any numbers >3. Some tribes have words for them but no mental concepts of them. They are known as journalists and politicians.

  2. Hans Labohm

    Ulrich Elkmann,

    I know that this is a rich source of confusion. But the 1.7 trillion seems plausibel to me, whereas the 1.4 billion does not.

    So, I would welcome further clarification.

  3. R. de Haan

    I suppose the Siemens figures are right as they also deliver those wonderful wind turbine, the backbone of “Der Energie Wende”
    “How much will that impact global temperatures?”
    I say the impact will be zero on a global level and not measurable at a local level.

  4. Beano

    Do you think that the ratings companies – e.g. S&P would see such reports as this and then make considerations into Germany’s economics?

    1. DirkH

      Beano, the Germans have, via Kyoto, forced the rest of Europe to decarbonize, so for instance, in broke Ireland, wind power for 30 bn Euro is installed while we are talking, financed by German and IMF money, flowing into the pockets of e.g. Siemens, with the debt to be paid back by the Irish taxpayer.

      As soon as the english wikipedia is up again, ask it for NIIP and look at Germany’s position.

      1. Ulrich Elkmann

        en.wikipedia.org has lifted the veil – but it was never down; actually, you could access it yesterday by disabling Javascript in your browser.

  5. Robin Pittwood

    How come Siemens and the power companies let themselves be dictated to by such misguided politicians? Surely some of their leaders could get together and explain the error of this blinkered single focus to the politicians.

  6. Ulrich Elkmann

    Comparisons with the Well(e)s show are, it should seem, slightly inappropriate:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_the_Worlds_%28radio%29#Extent

    “Extent
    Later studies suggested the panic was less widespread than newspapers had indicated at the time. During this period, many newspaper publishers were concerned that radio, a new medium, would render them obsolete. In that time of yellow journalism, print journalists took the opportunity to suggest that radio was dangerous by embellishing the story of the panic that ensued.[9]

    Hand cites studies by unnamed historians who “calculate[d] that some six million heard the CBS broadcast; 1.7 million believed it to be true, and 1.2 million were ‘genuinely frightened’”. NBC’s audience, by contrast, was an estimated 30 million.[7]

    Robert E. Bartholomew grants that hundreds of thousands were frightened but calls evidence of people taking action based on their fear “scant” and “anecdotal”.[10] Indeed, contemporary news articles indicate that police were swamped with hundreds of calls in numerous locations, but stories of people doing anything more than calling authorities mostly involve only small groups. Such stories were often reported by people who were panicking themselves.[8]
    [edit] Specific instances

    Future Tonight Show host Jack Paar had announcing duties that night for Cleveland CBS affiliate WGAR. As panicked listeners called the studio, Paar attempted to calm them on the phone and on air by saying, “The world is not coming to an end. Trust me. When have I ever lied to you?” When the listeners started charging Paar with “covering up the truth”, he called WGAR’s station manager for help. Oblivious to the situation, the manager advised Paar to calm down, saying it was “all a tempest in a teapot.”[11]

    In Concrete, Washington, phone lines and electricity went out due to a short-circuit at the Superior Portland Cement Company’s substation. Residents were unable to call neighbors, family or friends to calm their fears. Reporters who heard of the coincidental blackout sent the story over the newswire, and soon Concrete was known worldwide.[12]”
    But then again: Bulgatz, Joseph (1992). Ponzi Schemes, Invaders from Mars & More: Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0517588307.
    Little Green Men causing panic and bringing civilization to its knees…
    At least the US government did not start to spend hundred of billions of dollars annually on a space program to fight boneless horrors from Mars.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edison%27s_Conquest_of_Mars

  7. Ulrich Elkmann

    It’s clear from the original source that both figures should be in trillions:
    http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFL6E8CH20M20120117

    Siemens says nuclear exit cost 1.4-1.7 trln euro by 2030
    * Costs will mostly be born by customers, taxpayers
    * Current renewable law insufficient to make shift work (Adds details Of estimate, background, changes dateline)
    By Christoph Steitz

    “This will either be paid by energy customers or taxpayers,” Siemens board member Michael Suess, in charge of the company’s Energy Sector, told Reuters in an interview at the annual Handelsblatt Energiewirtschaft conference.

    The estimate of 1.7 trillion euros assumes strong expansion of renewables, with feed-in tariffs as the biggest chunk of costs. The cost would be lower — at about 1.4 billion euros — if gas was one of the major energy alternatives, Suess said.

    The estimates given by Siemens factor in feed-in tariffs — costs that utilities have to pay to generators of renewable energy — investments into power transmission and distribution, operations and maintenance as well as technologies to store renewable energy and carbon dioxide.”

  8. John Chase

    It is said that a sudden event, whether good or bad, does not turn out in the long run to be as good — or as bad — as it seems at first. Germans are not stupid, and will ultimately restore the nukes.

    1. DirkH

      No. 8 GW have been switched off, another 8 GW still running. That needs to be replaced. Doable by any old fossil fuel tech, and cheaply. Greens try to kill new coal and gas projects wherever they can so it’s a kind of boring useless struggle. In the end we’ll scrape the 16 GW together somehow, maybe close down some steel mills and aluminum smelters so we need even less and fire a few thousand.

      So, it will stagnate along, maybe accompanied by a few largish blackouts and surely by more electricity price hikes. It will be very painful to watch (so don’t watch it), and long term investments in the German energy sector of any kind stay too risky because of unpredictable political meddling. Short gambles might pay off. Just don’t expect Buy&Hold to work.