Atlantic Magazine editor prefers meltdown to shutdown

From: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/06/germanys-nonsensical-energy-policy/239798/

Germany’s Nonsensical Energy Policy

JUN 2 2011, 8:21 AM ET10

Germany’s government says it will shut down its nuclear power industry by 2022. It  promises to reduce carbon emissions at the same time. To keep both promises through a combination of increased domestic output from renewable sources and lower demand for energy looks just aboutimpossible. Most likely, Germany will have to import more energy–generated from nuclear and/or fossil-fuel sources. Quite what that achieves in terms of reducing the risk of nuclear accidents and diminishing global emissions of greenhouse gases would be hard to say.

Good editorials on the subject in the Washington Post (German’s nuclear energy blunder) and FT (The nuclear option).

    •  
    • It looks impossible, but it isn’t.Renewable energy sources have the potential to easily produce far more energy than we currently  burn through fossil fuels and nuclear combined.  Scientific American has had several articles on the subject in the last two years, dealing with concentrated solar, hot-rock geothermal, wind (including high-altitude wind farms) and several other methods.  And they just had an article on several systems which could dramatically reduce usage.

      Just because many unscientific people in the US think it is impossible, there are many who not only believe it is possible, they are working on making it so.

      Economists aren’t always the best people to discuss science, they do not really follow any of its basic tenets.

    • I am a scientist. 100% renewable energy is an economic impossibility–you still have to pay for what you build. Secondly, it is flat-out stupid. Renewable energies are among the least efficient(solar: 28% tops, wind: 70% tops and that’s a rarity), and also will improve drastically in the future.  Secondly, there is no such thing as a continuous supply of renewable energy. They are remarkably inconsistent in delivery, and would require huge capacitance to effectively store (which is another source of inefficiency).
      Thirdly, advancements in the safety of nuclear technology has increased several-fold in the past 20 years, not least of which by decreasing the size of individual nuclear power plants. Germany will certainly end up importing energy–and nuclear energy– if they stick with this plan. However, I’m sure they will reschedule their goals, eventually dropping it completely. They may increase their renewable resources, but if they try to produce more than 40% through renewables, they’re sunk.
  • 28% efficiency for solar is 100% clean and free energy (after installation, of course, and for the next 25 or 50 years…) while coals contribution is filthy, even at 100% efficiency.  So these numbers are meaningless.  Nuclear has proven, in the past 20 years, to be a complete and utter failure as shown by Fukushima, and Davis-Besse in 2002 nearly melted down, and there have been plenty of other problems.  Intermittent energy from renewables has been solved long ago a dozen ways.  It’s been calculated that California could store all the energy it needs via just a few additional pumps-storage lakes that could be built in a matter of months. Nuclear is a waste of human resources, natural resources, and money.  But someone will always promote it anyway.  The rest of us just have to not be so blind to the dangers as its promoters are.  I think we could call the syndrome the “Fukushima-Daiichi Complex” meaning someone who thinks “it can’t happen here” when it most certainly can.  A trillion-dollar disaster at Indian Point or San Onofre, or Oyster Creek or any other plant, would sober Mr. Crook right up, I think.  At least, if he lived in the evacuation zone and lost his house it might!
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