Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Energy Twins

By Simon Grose

If two of the world’s biggest economies are any guide, the energy future will not be clean.

Simon Grose is a Director of Science Media (sciencemedia.com.au).

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Germany and Japan were in the same boat as imperialist warmongers in the 1930s. A century later they look set to be pushing through the waters of the mid-21st century without nuclear propulsion.

Both first connected a nuclear power station to their national grids in 1966, and have displayed a similar symmetry in plans to disconnect their last. The Japanese government’s decision in September to phase out its 50 nuclear power reactors by 2040 came a little over a year after the German government announced a decision to close eight reactors immediately and its remaining nine by 2022. If these plans are fulfilled, they will be abandoning a technology that has provided Germany with a peak of around 25% of its electricity and Japan with around 30%.

Both rank high among the world’s most technologically adept and scientifically sophisticated countries and both require hefty baseload power to drive their industrialised economies. So it should be expected that they are implementing deliberate and coherent national energy strategies.

Heck no. Both are reactive political decisions – Japan’s in response to public opinion following the Fukushima disaster, Germany’s due to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s need to win the support of minor parties to form a coalition government.

So their energy strategists have to scramble to find ways to keep the lights on and the...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.