Greens everywhere have been fighting nuclear power for quite a while now. Some of us have been more, some less successful in our attempts. Looking back we can conclude that we have hindered or even stopped the growth of the nuclear sector but have failed in making Europe a nuclear free zone. The reasons for this may be our approach.
If we assess our rally against nuclear energy we have to conclude that our approach, as well as the ones on the other side, has been mainly been driven by ideology. The debate about radioactive waste which cannot be stored safely and therefore endangers us as well as future generations is a highly ideological question. Can or can we not live on the back of future generations? Is it enough to believe that science will find ways to store radioactive waste in a secure way?
We as Greens have long made up our minds, as have the technocrats. The main problem in this discussion is that it has long ceased to be a valuable debate. Arguments have been exchanged and both sides have set up their claims. The fight for people’s heads and heart seems to somehow have come to a dead end.
The new way for young Greens to go might be quite different from our regular approach but it may well be the way which promises the greatest chance of success. It is the market and its often feared powers that could hold the key to end nuclear power in Europe or even the world. Governments have prevented the energy market from speaking its verdict on nuclear power for far too long. There is one reason why nuclear energy can still compete with other energies: The cap on insurance liability! Unlike coal, gas or renewable energy sources, which have to cover all their insurance costs, nuclear power plants have to be insured just up to a certain point which equals about 0.00091-3% or 50-2500 million € of the estimated damage assessed by insurance companies.
All the rest or 97-99.99919% or 83-5469 billion € is covered by the state, or expressed differently, we, the people. There is no reason why the people who would suffer the most from any damage should also pay the costs for this. It is like being injured, infected with an incurable virus, having your home burned down and then being forced to pay for this.
If nuclear power plants would have to fully insure themselves their premiums would virtually explode. As this costs would have to be handed down to the consumers, nuclear power would become uncompetitive in an instant. If we can make use of this knowledge this might well be the key to the end of nuclear. Our main goal should therefore be the introduction of legislation that forbids any caps on insurance liability for power plants.