ドイツ「脱原発」 再生エネ普及に高いハードル

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 17, 2013)
Spread of renewable energy faces many hurdles
ドイツ「脱原発」 再生エネ普及に高いハードル(1月16日付・読売社説)

Many obstacles must be surmounted before the nation can introduce renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, on a full scale. Japan should learn from Germany's trial-and-error approach.

Germany has adopted a policy of ending nuclear power by abolishing all nuclear plants by 2022. Berlin pins its hopes on renewable energy as alternative power sources.

The main pillar of this policy to promote renewable energy in Germany is a fixed-price purchase system that was established in 2000. Under this system, power companies are obliged to purchase electricity generated from renewable energy sources at high fixed prices for a specific number of years.

This resulted in a surge of companies entering the solar power generation and other renewable energy markets. The percentage of electricity generated by renewable energy sources to total electricity increased from 7 percent in 2000 to 20 percent in 2011.

However, this has resulted in a continuous increase in electricity rates because the cost of purchasing electricity from renewable energy sources is added to the rates.

Germans naturally complained after it was announced in October last year that in 2013 their average annual electricity bills were expected to rise by about 100 euros, or about 12,000 yen, per household.


Negative impact on business

Industrial circles also oppose the electricity rate hike because they are concerned about the negative impact the higher costs will have on their businesses.

Admitting shortcomings in the fixed-price purchase system, German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier announced in the same month that the government would drastically review its renewable energy policy. The system, therefore, is now at a major crossroad.

The spread of renewable energy has not necessarily led to the promotion of related industries or employment in Germany. It is symbolic that German solar panel makers collapsed one after another when they lost out to cheap Chinese-made solar panels.

Wind power generation, a major renewable energy source, also has problems. Wind power plants have been set up mainly in the northern part of Germany, but areas that consume large amounts of electricity are industrial zones in the south. New power lines from north to south are needed, but their construction faces difficulty due to opposition from environmental groups.

In Japan, a fixed-price purchase system was launched last July under the Democratic Party of Japan-led administration of then Prime Minister Naoto Kan. It was modeled on Germany's system.


Learn from Germany

However, there are a number of problems with a system in which power companies purchase electricity from renewable energy sources at prices higher than normal for a maximum of 20 years. If the system is only advantageous to companies able to purchase a large quantity of solar panels, technological innovation will suffer. Revision of Japan's system, based on Germany's situation, is an urgent task.

The German government allows nine nuclear reactors to continue operating after confirming their safety, even though public opinion supports the abolition of nuclear power plants in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Germany's stable power supply is supported by electricity imported from neighboring countries and by ensuring that nuclear reactors will operate for nearly 10 more years.

In Japan, only two nuclear reactors are operating. Stable power supplies may suffer a blow unless the government quickly reactivates safe reactors.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 16, 2013)
(2013年1月16日00時15分  読売新聞)

0 件のコメント: