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1. From a technical and scientific perspective, it appears to be possible to phase out nuclear power within about a decade – providing the framework conditions set out in this text are met.
2. Even if from a technical and scientific perspective it seems possible to phase out nuclear power faster than originally planned in Germany’s Nuclear Phase-Out Act (Atomausstiegsgesetz), before any final decisions are made, we need a more detailed examination of the consequences of the various possible routes to phaseout with regard to security of supply, dependency on imports, costs and acceptance.
3. Because a task as major as restructuring an energy system involves so many uncertainties, the process will require continuous adaptation along the way. It is crucial that, as far as possible, these adaptations are made with society’s consent. We therefore recommend establishing for the long-term a compact, independent body to oversee energy-system restructuring. Similarly, in parallel to this process, the development of research programmes should be adapted to reflect the key indications of the latest political decisions and to keep pace with new scientific findings.
4. An accelerated nuclear phase-out would not affect Germany’s long-term energy-policy and energy-research goals, since the Federal Government’s energy concept only accords nuclear power the role of a bridging technology. The key declarations of the Academies’ 2009 energy research concept also continue to apply.
5. However, the prioritising and timeline of research efforts are liable to change. In particular, changes to the planned course of energypolicy will have to be made at short-notice.
6. In the short-term, an accelerated nuclear phase-out will primarily affect the electricity sector. Possible measures must therefore focus on this sector. However, there are links to other areas of the energy system. Replacing nuclear with conventional power plants will increase CO2 emissions in the energy sector. Total emissions will increase for a limited period of time because, given the ambitious goals already set in other areas of the energy system, it will be impossible to fully balance the equation by reducing emissions in these areas.
7. Increasing efficiency in our consumption of electricity – and also in other sectors – is the most effective way of helping to accelerate the phase-out of nuclear power. Many technologies for this are already available and can reduce costs as well. The crucial factor here will be sidestepping any rebound effects and creating incentives for actually implementing the possible savings potential.
8. We can assume that an accelerated phaseout will increase the cost of the process. We must ensure that the short-term measures taken are compatible with long-term goals. This will avoid pursuing options that seem suitable now, but that in the long term will put a strain on the economy, environment and society and lead to financial losses, environmental damage or reduced acceptance of the measures.
9. Even if short-term measures are initially planned and implemented on a national level, we should not look at Germany from an isolated standpoint. The European market for electrical energy will continue to become increasingly integrated, and much planning will happen on a Europe-wide level. Therefore, to optimise energy supply in Germany, we need to maintain a primarily European perspective. Opening up to an integrated European electricity market could, however, result in Germany importing nuclear energy from other Member States.
10. Current events show how important it is for energy research to offer a wide range of options
to ensure a secure energy supply even in the event of framework conditions changing.
11. In the short term, research efforts must concentrate primarily on quick-to-implement measures that will improve efficiency particularly in the energy sector. In doing so, it is key that they include the demand side in their work. Furthermore, work must continue developing ways of incorporating more renewable energies in grids.
12. In the long-term, energy research must address a broad spectrum of topics. It must present society with additional options by covering everything from basic research to highly application-oriented investigations. While it is important to establish priorities in research, we must also, to a certain extent, pursue directions that are not part of the mainstream. Energy research demands continuity. Reactivating suspended research fields requires a great deal of time and effort.
Head of Department Science – Policy – Society, Head of Berlin Office
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