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Thursday, 15 June, 2000, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Analysis: Germany's alternatives to nuclear
Smoky factories
Natural gas will raise greenhouse gas emissions
The German Government's decison to close down the country's nuclear stations, which provides a third of the country's electricity, prompts the next question - what source of electricity will be used instead?

They may, ironically, still have to depend on nuclear energy for an interim period.

"In the short term, they may find themselves buying somebody else's nuclear electricty," said Malcom Grimston from the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London.

France is one country from where they can import nuclear generated electricity.

"France is the biggest exporter of electricity within Europe and is looking for business opportunities overseas," said Mr Grimston.

"But they'll certainly have to build some other source of capacity."

Natural gas

Natural gas is another alternative source of energy.


The Biblis nuclear plant i
A third of Germany's electic power comes from nuclear energy
"Germany in due course would be able to import gas, both from the Netherlands gas fields, which are quite extensive but increasingly from eastern Europe as well, as the Russian gas fields become available for Western use," Mr Grimston said.

Swapping from nuclear electricity to natural gas however, will have implications for the environment, particularly greenhouse gas emissions.

"If they use fossil fuels and particularly gas for some of that, their greenhouse emission commitment will be difficult to reach," Mr Grimston said.

"Germany has agreed to cut its greenhouse emissions by 25% between the period of 1990 and 2005.

"Nuclear stations obviously don't generate greenhouse gases and that's going to be very, very challenging if they close down their nuclear stations early."

The greenhouse gas issue is of major concern but, according to Mr Grimston, those involved in the nuclear industry will also be watching to see how the German closures affect other nuclear plants.

One company with a specific interest is British Nuclear Fuels, based in north-west England, which currently reprocesses fuel for the German reactors.

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See also:

15 Jun 00 | Europe
Germany renounces nuclear power
25 Feb 00 | Sci/Tech
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