Why we still need German nuclear power plants now

Why we still need German nuclear power plants now

The Moormann-Wendland Memorandum for a newly established energy transition

Download Memorandum

ZEIT article “Stop the nuclear phase-out!” (PDF)

In September and October 2020, we took to the streets to maintain and continue operating our CO₂-free nuclear power plants. Photos, reporting and information here.

The Fridays for Future movement conjures up the scenario every day: Germany misses its climate targets and is far too slowly phasing out the fossil fuel industry. “This has mainly to do with the premature nuclear phase-out,” say scientists Dr. Rainer Moormann and Dr. Anna Veronika Wendland. In doing so, they are breaking a taboo in the German climate debate, which for years has been avoiding a simple fact: nuclear energy is a highly effective instrument against climate-damaging emissions in the energy industry. For this reason, the nuclear phase-out should be postponed, Moormann and Wendland demand in a scientific memorandum, which will be published here for the first time.

Dr. Rainer Moormann and Dr. Anna Veronika Wendland explain their positions in a video interview with Simeon Preuß.

Moormann and Wendland come from completely opposite positions in the energy debate. Despite many controversies, they have come together to write this memorandum because they believe it is the order of the day. The physical chemist Rainer Moormann worked at the Jülich Nuclear Research Center for almost four decades and made a name for himself as a critic of the nuclear industry. The historian Anna Veronika Wendland works at a Marburg research institute on the comparative history and present of reactor safety and often conducts research in nuclear power plants. Over the years, this has turned her from a nuclear opponent to a proponent of nuclear energy. Both came together after long arguments because they considered radical steps to be urgently needed in view of the climate emergency. Even unconventional steps.

A solution to the climate emergency

And Moormann and Wendland’s proposal is unconventional. It breaks with the German nuclear phase-out consensus and the usual energy transition arguments. Political consensus are not sacred cows, they say – under new conditions, they must be questioned again and again. “More and more renewables are of no use if there are no mature storage options for green electricity,” says Anna Veronika Wendland. “Nuclear energy should therefore be used in the transitional period instead of coal and gas to secure renewables. Follow the science! it is always said at the climate protection demos. But then the Germans must also take note of the fact that science in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) attributes an important role to nuclear energy in slowing global warming.”

In view of the climate emergency and the currently too slow progress of the energy transition, the two scientists propose to keep the six German nuclear power plants, the GER6, still on the grid, running. Rainer Moormann: “Instead, particularly climate-damaging lignite capacities should be shut down quickly to the same extent. That would reduce the German CO2-Reduce total emissions by approximately 10%. Natural gas as a backup for renewables, as the German government is planning, is not an alternative, because it is just as harmful to the climate as coal combustion because of its methane emissions.” If the necessary significant progress on the way to large-scale storage systems for a system largely based on renewable energies cannot be observed by 2030, a new construction of nuclear power plants – in addition to the expansion of renewable energies – would inevitably have to be considered.

The Memorandum

You can read the Moormann-Wendland Memorandum in full here:

Why we still need the German nuclear power plants proposal for a restructured energy transition under the conditions of the climate emergency (PDF), second version of 4 January 2021

A summary has been published as a guest article by the authors in the weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT:

“Stop the nuclear phase-out!” (PDF)

After the publication of the memorandum on 14 July 2020, some critical contributions appeared. The authors deal with this in this statement.

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