“On the one hand, this provides a remarkable opportunity, on paper, for alternative sources of fuel like natural gas, renewables and coal, which Germany has relied on for a long time,” Staple said. “They face the same dilemmas we do to ensure it's clean coal.”
Staple said the discussion over how to replace nuclear energy in Germany has made German businesses nervous, since industrial users already pay high rates for electricity compared to the United States. But German manufacturing is less energy intensive than manufacturing in North America, he said.
“Abundance alone is not a winning strategy,” Staple said. “Electricity prices alone are not the bugaboo. Politicians are concerned about price shocks. They may not be here after the next election. Guess who will be? All of us. So energy policy needs to look beyond the next election.”
Staple said energy policy is an intergenerational process and takes time. Broad standards are needed so consumers, regulators and companies can respond to changes in technologies, energy efficiency and national priorities.
“Set mid- to long-term goals and stick to them,” Staple said. “Investors and consumers don't like uncertainty. These are long-lived assets we're talking about in the electricity sector for generation.”