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March 23, 2011

Germany exploring a transition from nuclear power at a cost of at least $210 billion and want the rest of Europe to pay more for energy too

Germany currently gets 23 percent of its energy from nuclear power - about as much as the U.S. It's ambitious plan to shut down its reactors will require at least euro150 billion ($210 billion) investment in alternative energy sources, which experts say will likely lead to higher electricity prices.

Germany now gets 17 percent of its electricity from renewable energies, 13 percent from natural gas and more than 40 percent from coal. The Environment Ministry says in 10 years renewable energy will contribute 40 percent of the country's overall electricity production.



Last year Germany estimated about euro20 billion ($28 billion) a year will be needed with euro75 billion ($107 billion) alone needed through 2030 to install offshore wind farms.

Most of the country's leaders now seem determined to swiftly abolish nuclear power, possibly by 2020, and several conservative politicians, including the chancellor, have made a complete U-turn on the issue.

Producers of renewable energy have feed in tariff subsidies financed by a 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour tax paid by all electricity customers. For a typical German family of four who pay about euro1,000 ($1,420) a year to use about 4,500 kilowatt-hours, the tax amounts to euro157 ($223). The tax produced euro8.2 billion ($11.7 billion) in Germany in 2010 and it is expected to top euro13.5 billion ($19.2 billion) this year.

France and other nations are firmly committed to nuclear power, shutting down all reactors across Europe won't happen, but Merkel is now pushing for common safety standards. Merkel said the 27-nation bloc, which has standardized "the size of apples or the shape of bananas," needs joint standards for nuclear power plants. "Everybody in Europe would be equally affected by an accident at a nuclear power plant in Europe," Merkel said

Germany is choosing to increase its energy costs and want the rest of Europe to increase their energy costs as well.

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