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Germany Solar and Wind is Triple the Cost of France’s Nuclear and Will Last Half as Long

Brian Wang's picture
Independent Writer nextbigfuture

Brian Wang is a business-oriented futurist, speaker and author of emerging and disruptive technologies. He is the sole author and writer of, a science-focused news site that...

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  • Nov 11, 2019 8:15 am GMT

France’s nuclear energy spending was 60% of what Germany spent on renewables. France gets about 400 Terawatt hour per year from nuclear but Germany gets 226 Terawatt-hours each year. 45 Terawatt-hours of Germany’s renewable power comes from burning biomass which generates air pollution.

Germany’s solar farms will have to be rebuilt every 15-25 years. The wind farms will need to be rebuilt every 20-25 years. Nuclear plants can last 40-80+ years. This means that it guaranteed that the solar and wind farms will have to be rebuilt in 15-25 years. The maintenance costs will increase as wind turbines or solar panels are replaced. The old turbines and solar panels will need to be replaced.

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France completed construction on 76% of its current 58 reactors at an inflation-adjusted cost of $330 billion (€290 billion). The complete buildout of the 58 reactors was less €400 billion. Germany has spent about €500 billion over the last 20 years to get to 35% renewables. 7% of this is burning biomass. France gets almost double the TWh from nuclear than Germany gets from renewables (solar, wind, biomass, hydro). France has gotten about 400 TWh per year from nuclear while all of Germany’s renewables (solar, wind and biomass) amounts to about 220 TWh.

China has a more recent buildup of nuclear energy. China has spent less than $150 billion from 2000 to 2019 to develop 300 Terawatt-hours per year of nuclear energy.

France’s cost was $1 billion to build each terawatt hour per year of clean energy.
Germany’s cost is $2.5 billion to build each terawatt hour per year of relatively clean energy. The 180 TWh per year of solar and wind is clean but the biomass is not. It generates air pollution. France’s electricity is 41% cheaper for its citizen’s than Germany. Germans now pay 30 euro cents per kwh. the French pay 18 euro cents per kwh. This was an extra €24 billion per year. 22 years of extra cost is another $500 billion. This is triple the cost of France and does not include the rebuild of solar and wind over the 50+ year during of the nuclear reactors.
China’s cost is $0.5 billion per terawatt hour per year of clean energy. China’s nuclear buildout is over 5 times cheaper than Germany’s.

From 2006 to 2017, Germany increased the cost of electricity for households by 50%. (per an OECD report) French electricity costs are just 59% of German electricity prices. France produces one-tenth the carbon pollution from electricity compared to Germany.

Germany would need 50% more nuclear energy than France to completely replace all other power generation. This would cost €600 billion if Germany could match France’s build from the 1980s. Costs and safety regulations have increased even though France’s nuclear power has operated without incident for over 30 years. 80 nuclear reactors would now cost €1600 billion euros for Germany. This would still be cheaper than the estimated costs for the solar and wind buildout that is underway.

Over the past five years alone, the Energiewende has cost Germany €32 billion ($36 billion) annually, and opposition to renewables is growing in the German countryside. This was €160 billion to get 70 Terawatt-hours per year. The same portion of France’s spending on nuclear wold be 200 Terawatt-hours per year.

Der Spiegel cites a recent estimate that it would cost Germany “€3.4 trillion ($3.8 trillion),” or seven times more than it spent from 2000 to 2019, to increase solar and wind three to five-fold by 2050.

Germany needs to add 7,700 new kilometers of transmission lines to move the renewable power from solar and wind farms but only 8% have been built. Large-scale electricity storage remains inefficient and expensive.

Germany is 2% of the world carbon dioxide emissions.

Looking Solar Panel Costs Does Not Cost the Energy Transformation Correctly

People do not understand energy or the benefits and risks that relate to energy.

John Gorman was the chief executive of the Canadian Solar Industries Association but now he is a nuclear energy advocate. John indicates that nuclear energy is vital to solving the energy issues related to climate change.

An overly optimistic view of renewables has affected major decisions about other energy sources, particularly nuclear. The global focus on renewables has caused existing nuclear plants to be retired early and has stalled investment in new projects. It’s given people a false sense of security that we don’t need nuclear any more when nothing could be further from the truth.

What’s worse, because wind and solar are variable (they produce electricity only when the wind blows or the sun shines), they must be paired with other energy sources to support demand, and these are almost always fossil fuels. In the absence of enough nuclear energy, renewables are effectively prolonging the life of coal and gas plants that can produce power around the clock.

Nuclear is the only proven technology that has decarbonized the economies of entire countries, including France and Sweden.

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Nov 11, 2019

Brian, great work. The anti-nuclear, anti-science roar at EC gets louder by the day, as natural gas and renewables interests attempt to thwart the nuclear renaissance with noise and lies.

As always, truth will prevail. Or as Shakespeare put it:

"Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just."

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