The statements issued today by Sigmar Gabriel, in his function as Federal Minister for the Environment, on the topic of opting out of nuclear energy and the development of electricity prices -statements which are based on hypotheses of the Eco Institute - are to be interpreted as a further election manoeuvre. His comparison of electricity prices in countries with and without nuclear energy does not reveal how electricity prices would develop if CO2-free nuclear energy were to be lost with the corresponding shortage this would entail, that is to say if one quarter of German electricity production and half the base load in Germany were to be lost. In other words: he has missed the point.
In fact, it has been scientifically proven for years that an extension of the running times for German nuclear power plants would have a cushioning effect on the development of electricity prices. This cushioning effect arises among other things because it prevents a price-raising capacity shortage in the electricity market. Moreover, opting out would increase the prices for CO2 certificates and, therefore, the price of electricity in turn.
According to studies by the Energy Economy Institute at the University of Cologne (EWI) and Energy Environment Forecast Analysis GmbH & Co. KG (EEFA), the level of the wholesale electricity price in 2030 would be up to 20 percent lower if running times were extended as opposed to opting out of nuclear energy. The cushioning effect on electricity prices of safe and virtually CO2-free nuclear energy, particularly in conjunction with the development of prices for CO2 certificates, is demonstrated in numerous other studies ? including, among them, in the scenario calculations carried out for the Federal Government`s energy summit in 2007.
Gabriel`s line of reasoning is not appropriate:
For one thing, it is not possible to establish a direct relationship between an energy source`s share in a country`s electricity production and the level of electricity prices in that country.