* Siemens says nuclear exit cost 1.4-1.7 trln euro by 2030
* Costs will mostly be born by customers, taxpayers
* Current renewable law insufficient to make shift work
(Adds details Of estimate, background, changes dateline)
By Christoph Steitz
BERLIN, Jan 17 Germany's exit from nuclear
power could cost the country as much as 1.7 trillion euros
($2.15 trillion) by 2030, or two thirds of the country's GDP in
2011, according to Siemens (SIEGn.DE), which built all of
Germany's 17 nuclear plants.
"This will either be paid by energy customers or taxpayers,"
Siemens board member Michael Suess, in charge of the company's
Energy Sector, told Reuters in an interview at the annual
Handelsblatt Energiewirtschaft conference.
The estimate of 1.7 trillion euros assumes strong expansion
of renewables, with feed-in tariffs as the biggest chunk of
costs. The cost would be lower -- at about 1.4 billion euros --
if gas was one of the major energy alternatives, Suess said.
The estimates given by Siemens factor in feed-in tariffs --
costs that utilities have to pay to generators of renewable
energy -- investments into power transmission and distribution,
operations and maintenance as well as technologies to store
renewable energy and carbon dioxide.
"As an industry, Germany has always reached its goals. Now
the whole world is looking at us. If the energy shift should
fail ... it would undermine Germany's credibility as an industry
nation," Suess said.
Europe's biggest economy decided to abandon nuclear power
after the massive earthquake and tsunami of March 11 which hit
Japanese reactors, causing an environmental disaster.
Following the disaster, Siemens pulled out of the nuclear
business, planning only to supply components such as steam
turbines for nuclear power plants.
Siemens' estimate for the shift away from nuclear is much
higher than the 250-300 billion euros estimate given earlier by
Juergen Grossmann, chief executive of Germany's No.2 utility RWE
(RWEG.DE). Grossmann, however, did not give a time frame for the
Siemens' Energy Sector -- which is active in several areas
including power transmission, solar, wind and hydro power --
achieved 27.61 billion euros in sales in the fiscal year 2011,
about 38 percent of the conglomerate's revenues, while profit
came in at 4.14 billion.
Last year, Siemens said it aimed to benefit from the global
push into renewable energy by installing power lines to get
electricity from sun-drenched and wind-swept sites to customers.
At the time, it said the global market for power
transmission of high-voltage direct current could triple in the
next few years to 9 billion euros.
Suess added Germany's current renewable law (EEG) was
insufficient in expanding renewable energy sources -- above all,
solar -- in a sustainable way, adding the incentives were
In Germany, generators of solar power receive a guaranteed
price for their power for several decades, with no incentive to
upgrade or modify their systems.
"We think that the energy system must not be a pawn of
investors that aim to maximise their returns. The shift will not
work with those incentives," Suess said.
"One option would be to tie incentives to innovation,
whereby owners of solar panels were forced to modernise their
systems. Such incentives do not exist at the moment."
(Additional reporting by Sarah Marsh and Sakari Suoninen;
Editing by Mike Nesbit and Elaine Hardcastle)
((email@example.com)(+49 69 7565
(C) Reuters 2011 All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of
Reuters content, including by caching, framing, or similar means, is
expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters
and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of
the Reuters group of companies around the world.