Public Negotiations Over Plans to Tax Germany's Nuclear Plants to the Tune of 2.3 Billion Euros per Year
Germany’s utilities and major energy consuming businesses are taking the battle over special taxes into the public domain. They are refusing to be patsies for the politicians who are trying to frame the debate and tell the public that extending nuclear power plant operation is simply a gift to the plant owners. Though I do not speak German and am thus at a bit of a disadvantage in understanding the nuances, it seems that some of the government’s negotiators have indicated that the offer to allow extended operation can be taken away if the plant owners refuse to “do their share” to attempt to turn the wind and sun into reliable replacements for nuclear power plants.
Claudia Kemfert, DW Research Institute, made an interesting comment in reaction to the efforts of the utilities to bring the discussion about special nuclear power taxes to the public’s attention.
“The utilities try to avoid a tax simply because they increase the cost. Capital oriented companies, of course, would like to reduce the cost. And they would like to influence energy policy and pressure Chancellor Merkel.”
Can you believe the nerve of companies full of technically trained or educated energy specialists thinking they should influence future energy policy decisions? (End Ironic Commentary.)
The point of taxing carbon is to internalize the cost of CO2 emissions and benefit the plants that produce less CO2 per kWh at the expense of those plants that produce more. If these plants are more profitable, more will be built, that’s the whole point.
So what does the German government do when nuclear predictably wins and ought to be thinking about expanding so they can shut down some of those old dirt burners? They say no, no, no, no, this is unfair; wind and solar was supposed to win!
If that was the intent all along, just skip the middle man and skip the dishonesty of “playing market”. Just build state owned wind farms and solar farms and be done with it.
You nailed it. It is a question of the DEGREE of control the government has over energy companies. When the government wants to put a price on carbon, that is a limited control mechanism, but it would still allow a free choice of technologies. In this case it however amounts to communist central planning. The government has an “plan” of certain technologies, is planning amounts of energy to be produced, planning the amounts of energy consumed by the citizenry, and then they intervene in the economy, adjusting profits and losses through subsidies and taxes, coercing business decisions by way of regulations, until the economy does exactly what they want them to do.
This has less to do about nuclear power than it does about finding more heroin for politicians, their failed policies, and their welfare state.
Germany’s manufacturing-heavy, export-driven economy will pay a heavy price if the political decision to push solar and wind turns out to be a mistake — very likely.
The German government has set up a “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t” situation. The government says it wants electricity generated with greatly reduced CO2 emissions. Then when a company does it using nuclear energy, and even worse, has the audacity of making a profit while doing it, they either want to shut down the power plant (no license extensions) or tax it out of existance (nuclear fuel tax).
Obviously, the German government is more interesting in picking winners and losers in the energy business than in reducing CO2 emissions.
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