As regular readers of this blog may have already realised, the classic Maxis computer simulation Sim City 3000 – a Weltanschauung masquerading as a video game – is something of a Mediolana preoccupation, so when we heard the news that Germany has decided to shutter all of its remaining nuclear reactors by 2022, it was inevitable that we reached for an SC3000 trope.
Yet the reference is an accurate one: the German move is one of those truly momentous occasions that is straight out of a Sim City scenario. Not content with decommissioning its nuclear power capacity, the German government is also aiming for the following targets:
A. A 10% reduction in electricity consumption by 2020;
B. A 35% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020;
C. Doubling Germany’s installed renewable energy potential, again by 2020.
These are ambitious objectives, particularly given that 22% of Germany’s energy requirements are currently supplied by nuclear means, but Mediolana believe that today’s move might be an inspired one for the following reasons:
1. Leadership. Germany is the first major industrialised country with nuclear power generation capability to chart a defined path forward to a post-nuclear future, a fact which should confer a host of advantages on its economy, particularly its energy and environmental sectors.
2. Principle. While this initiative is on one level a clear reaction to that other Sim City scenario – Fukushima – Germany would not appear to be in any great danger of suffering a similar tragedy, being located in an area of the world with minimal seismic activity. This makes its stance all the move interesting as it has concluded that the innately dangerous nature of nuclear power is nonetheless too powerful a disincentive to make this type of power generation worthwhile.
3. Ideology. Incredibly, this development has taken place not under the tutelage of a socialist or green government, but in a CDU-FDP coalition fronted by the generally uninspired Angela Merkel; as recently as 2010, Merkel had pushed through a plan to extend the lifespan of Germany’s nuclear reactors, with the last one due to expire in 2036.