Phase-Out of Coal and Nuclear Power Plants




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RWTH study delivers research results on the effects of the phase-out of coal and nuclear power on electricity supplies.


A major concern about the phase-out of nuclear and coal-fired power generation is a possible deterioration in the supply of electricity. Professor Aaron Praktiknjo and research associate Lars Nolting from the Department for Energy Resources and Innovation Economics at RWTH Aachen University have now published a study in the academic journal Applied Energy which examines the effects of the German nuclear and coal phase-out on the electricity supply in Germany.

The results of the Aachen researchers show that with respect to the security of supply, there is no need to deviate from the planned phase-out of nuclear energy and coal. Although there will be a drop in the level of security of supply in the medium term, a deviation from the energy transition plans for economic reasons is not necessary.

"The social costs of measures to maintain the current level of security would exceed the associated economic benefits," explains Praktiknjo. "However, the expansion of both electricity grids and renewable energies must not be significantly delayed. Wind energy in particular must be expanded over the next five years as originally planned. "Furthermore, no further power plants should be shut down for the time being beyond the current phase-out plans," the energy researcher adds.

On average, Germany has always had sufficient power plants available in recent decades to cover the electricity needs of all consumer groups. Implementing the planned shutdowns, in the medium term, statistically there might be periods of up to three hours per year where it will not be possible to completely cover the electricity demand for all consumers.

"However, this would merely bring the level of supply security in Germany into line with European standards, such as those in Belgium, France, or the Netherlands," explains Nolting. As a result, Germany would have to increasingly rely on electricity imports from neighboring European countries in the future, which, according to the Aachen energy researchers, would not pose a problem. "National energy policies, however, should be increasingly coordinated at the European level in the future," adds Praktiknjo.

The study results were published in the international journal Applied Energy. The publication is available online.