German energy strategy has a cost

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Letter writer Doris Wrench Eisler writes, “Responding to critics” (Gazette, March 1) “Germany uses no fossil fuels or nuclear energy and exports green technology quite profitably.”

It may surprise her to learn that, in fact, Germany relies heavily on fossil fuels and nuclear power for energy. In 2016, 40.1 per cent of Germany’s power generation came from coal (23.1 per cent from lignite, 17 per cent from hard coal). Furthermore, 13.1 per cent of Germany’s power generation came from nuclear sources, and an additional 12.1 per cent from natural gas.

Now, it is true that Germany does have long-term plans to phase out the use of nuclear energy. Currently, approximately 29.5 per cent of the country’s energy comes from renewable sources.

Of course, this comes at a cost; German businesses pay about 17.5 cents (in U.S. dollars) per kilowatt hour (kWh), and German residences pay about 39.5 cents per kWh. These represent the second-highest power prices in Europe. By comparison, our friends in the U.S. pay (on average) about 7 cents per kWh (businesses) and 12 cents per kWh (residential). Here in Alberta, the current average is around 3 cents (I’ve converted the figure to USD, for consistency), and the recently approved rate cap (which will be implemented this year and will last until 2021) is 5 cents per kWh (USD, again).

All of which is to say: Germany is, in some respects, a model for us. But it is not a perfect or ideal model by any stretch of the imagination.

Kenneth Kully, St. Albert

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