China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) recently released its latest energy outlook, which highlights the progress made in 2010 and foresees a busy 2011. While development of new and renewable energy sources is the focus of China’s long-term energy plan, the Chinese government is still struggling to figure out exactly how fast those sectors should grow. Learning from previous experiences, China’s top decision makers are taking a more practical – and in our opinion, more rational – approach to creating a low-carbon economy. 

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12th Five-Year Plan, carbon intensity, China, Chinese Electricity Council, energy intensity, energy outlook, grid infrastructure, National Energy Administration, non-fossil fuels, renewable energy, ultra high voltage, wind power

Chancellor Merkel has spoken. At a press conference on September 6, the German head of state announced that her country’s nuclear phaseout will be extended by an average of 12 years. Merkel called the cabinet’s agreement on the government’s draft Energy Outlook for 2050 a “revolution” that further promotes Germany’s “most energy-efficient and most environmentally friendly energy supply worldwide.”

Germany extends nuclear phaseout - Flickr Creative Commons / miggslives

Unfortunately, Mrs. Merkel seems to disagree with many environmentalists about the difference between a sustainable, renewable, and truly “green” energy future and one that is based on the potentially hazardous exploitation of a scarce resource—i.e., uranium.

In the draft Energy Outlook, the lifespan of Germany’s 17 nuclear power plants will be extended by eight years if the plant was installed in or before 1980, and by 14 years if the plant was installed after 1980. The draft envisions cuts in German greenhouse gas emissions of 80 percent, a share of renewables in total energy consumption of 60 percent, and a share of renewables in electricity consumption of 80 percent, all to be reached by 2050.

Cabinet ministers will decide on the draft on September 28. After that, legislative proceedings will begin with readings in both the Bundestag (Germany’s parliament) and the Bundesrat (the federal assembly of the representatives of the German states, or “Länder”). In addition to the political controversy about the nuclear phaseout, however, there is currently an ongoing discussion about whether the Bundesrat can only comment on the bill, or has the right to veto it entirely.

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energy outlook, Germany, nuclear, renewable energy

When it comes to European energy policies, Germany quite often basks in records. It leads the region in installed solar power capacity per capita, is a trendsetter in climate legislation (such as the Renewable Energy Sources Act of 2004), and boasts a head of state whom the national media dubs “Climate Chancellor.”

Germany has to decide on its energy future - Flickr Creative Commons / Mykl Roventine

But while the country enjoys an excellent reputation in international circles—well deserved for most of the past two decades—its domestic energy policy remains stalled in a dispute about the phaseout of nuclear energy. (Incidentally, none of Germany’s European neighbors is comparably engaged in this debate; in France, for example, nuclear power production nears 85 percent.)

Later this month, the German government will present its new “energy outlook for 2050,” with a key focus on the nuclear phaseout and the composition of the country’s future energy mix. On August 30, Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen  (CDU) and Minister of Economics and Technology Rainer Bruederle (FDP) presented the study that will provide the basis for this outlook, titled Energieszenarien fuer ein Energiekonzept der Bundesregierung (Scenarios for the Federal Government’s Energy Outlook).

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energy outlook, Germany, nuclear, renewable energy