In a reaction to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the German government accelerated their plans to phase out nuclear energy production. The policy shift is clear in the chart above: Germany’s nuclear energy production collapsed in 2011-12 (blue line).
The policy shift, away from nuclear, was paired with a concerted effort to increase the use of renewables, such as wind and solar. However, energy sources must offer stability and sufficient capacity, both areas in which renewables currently lack. The result, over the subsequent years, imported Natural Gas rose dramatically. Germany is now reliant on Natural Gas imports. Naturally, this increased carbon emissions output, and adversely affected Germany energy trade deficit – now the 5th largest in the world.
Ironically, despite 44% of Germany’s power production coming from renewables, the shift to renewables has led to a CO2 output per person that is twice that of France, which gets approximately 78% of its power production from nuclear.
Additionally, the anti-nuclear stance has exposed a security risk. Russia has demonstrated it is willing to weaponize Natural Gas exports to Germany to achieve its geopolitical aims. Russia deliberately reduced gas exports to the EU in retaliation to a legislative standoff between Germany and Russia. This standoff concerns the Nord Stream 2 Natural Gas pipeline waiting for approval from the German authorities. The pipeline would provide an additional 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Natural Gas a year to the EU. The decision from the Russian government to limit Natural Gas exports has helped send prices to the roof, with German importers’ Natural Gas bill up by 55% for the first 8 months of the year (adjusted for inflation).