Never let it be said that Germany doesn’t have the good of all at heart. Thus it is with Günther Oettinger’s proposal to harmonise the cost of nuclear insurance across the European Union, and preferably beyond if he could.
Not content with Germany’s utterly daft decision to abandon nuclear power generation, the European Commissioner for Energy now wishes to make it prohibitively expensive for everyone else by promising to impose mandatory disaster insurance on all nuclear power plants.
Oettinger believes the current, quite limited, insurance most countries have – in Bulgaria, for instance, it is just €49m (£40m) per plant, and in France €90m – amounts to a hidden subsidy for nuclear.
Unfair, he cries. Something must be done, especially as Germany has decided to go down the costly alternative route of investment in renewables for its future energy needs. If Germans are to pay through the nose for their energy, then so must everyone else, nicht wahr?
Apparently, German economists have crunched the numbers and determined that the costs of a Fukushima in a densely populated part of Europe could be as high as €5 trillion, or about double the size of German GDP.
I’m not entirely sure how they reach this number, but plainly it would be completely uninsurable. Even Munich Re, the reinsurer for Fukushima, would struggle with that one.
If the effect was to stop future nuclear development in its tracks, that would presumably count as the right outcome. Those Germans; they certainly know what’s good for you.