On Twitter this morning, Stephen Tindale asked me a good question – did Austria go ahead with its “ban” on imports of nuclear power? The Austrians are easily the fiercest opponents of nuclear in the EU. In 1978 – a year before Three Mile Island – they voted in a referendum to prevent the country’s first nuclear plant from being switched on; construction had been completed. And this month, Austria also filed suit with the EU against British plans to provide special financial incentives for a new nuclear plant at Hinkley.
Now, the country is 100 percent nuclear free even in terms of imports. Because there were no reports on the event at all, I contacted the press spokesperson at Verbund, Austria’s largest utility and got the following response (my translation of the German):
Starting in 2015, there is an obligation in Austria to demonstrate the origin of electricity. The sale of the ENTSOE mix, which theoretically includes a share of nuclear power, is no longer possible. We therefore also only offer our industry customers electricity with a certificate of origin (which then does not even theoretically contain any nuclear power).
As I explained in my previous report, the Austrians have also gone about the matter in a way that will make it difficult for Brussels to file suit. Essentially, the government merely requires proof of origin. The utilities then voluntarily agreed not to purchase any nuclear power; they are not forced to by law, but are merely responding to market demand. It will be hard for the EU to get a foothold against this setup. There is apparently nothing, however, preventing a provider from offering nuclear power, including 100 percent nuclearpower, as one newly created German provider now does. (There is no ban on importing nuclear power in Germany, nor any plans to do so.)
Incidentally, after the confusion about Patrick Moore’s relations with Greenpeace in that article on the German provider of 100 percent nuclear power, I wanted to be careful in describing Tindale’s relationship with Greenpeace. Online, I found conflicting information about when Tindale was executive director at Greenpeace UK. Tindale confirmed to me that he was officially at the helm from 2001-2007, though an illness meant that he was effectively only active from 2001-2006 (he says he is fine now). His Wikipedia entry (linked to above) says he was at the helm “until 2005.” Other websites have him staying even longer, such as “from 2001-2008.” A Greenpeace UK press release says he started on 6 April 2001, but there does not seem to be one for the handover from Tindale to John Sauven in 2007.
Source: Renewables International. Reproduced with permission.