nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Germany becoming a super power, with the success of its renewable energy

Germany, the Green Superpower , NYT  MAY 6, 2015 BERLIN — A week at the American Academy in Berlin leaves me with two contradictory feelings: one is that Germany today deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, and the other is that Germany tomorrow will have to overcome its deeply ingrained post-World War II pacifism and become a more serious, activist global power. And I say both as a compliment.

On the first point, what the Germans have done in converting almost 30 percent of their electric grid to solar and wind logo-Energiewendeenergy from near zero in about 15 years has been a great contribution to the stability of our planet and its climate. The centerpiece of the German Energiewende, or energy transformation, was an extremely generous “feed-in tariff” that made it a no-brainer for Germans to install solar power (or wind) at home and receive a predictable high price for the energy generated off their own rooftops.

There is no denying that the early days of the feed-in tariff were expensive. The subsidies cost billions of euros, paid for through a surcharge on everyone’s electric bill. But the goal was not simply to buy more renewable energy: It was to create demand that would drive down the cost of solar and wind to make them mainstream, affordable options. And, in that, the energiewende has been an undiluted success. With price drops of more than 80 percent for solar, and 55 percent for wind, zero-carbon energy is now competitive with fossil fuels here.

In my view the greatest success of the German energy transition was giving a boost to the Chinese solar panel industry,” said Ralf Fücks, the president of the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, the German Green Party’s political foundation. “We created the mass market, and that led to the increased productivity and dramatic decrease in cost.” And all this in a country whose northern tip is the same latitude as the southern tip of Alaska!

text-renw-Germany

This is a world-saving achievement. And, happily, as the price fell, the subsidies for new installations also dropped. The Germans who installed solar ended up making money, which is why the program remains popular, except in coal-producing regions. Today, more than 1.4 million German households and cooperatives are generating their own solar/wind electricity. “There are now a thousand energy cooperatives operated by private people,” said the energy economist Claudia Kemfert. Continue reading

May 8, 2015 Posted by | Germany, renewable | Leave a comment

Germany’s nuclear exit costly: other countries’ exit might be worse

nuclear-true-costs

Costs for Germany’s nuclear exit could rise to $75 billion http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/20/us-germany-utilities-nuclear-exit-idUSKBN0NB18S20150420 BERLIN Reuters) – The bill for shutting down Germany’s nuclear power plants and building a safe disposal site for nuclear waste could rise to 70 billion euros ($75 billion), the head of a government commission told daily Frankfurter Rundschau in an interview

E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall [VATN.UL] are due to switch off their nuclear plants by a 2022 deadline set by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government after the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011.

A decision by E.ON to restructure its business and spin off its conventional power plants raised additional fears that taxpayers may end up footing a portion of the bill for dismantling the nuclear plants and storing waste.

“There are significant financial risks coming up for the state,” said Michael Mueller, head of the government’s task force charged with finding a disposal site for nuclear waste.

The costs for the nuclear exit could rise to up to 70 billion euros over the next decades, meaning that the 36 billion euros ($38 billion) in provisions set aside by the four nuclear operators were not sufficient, he added.

Spokesmen from E.ON and EnBW said in separate statements that the companies’ provisions were sufficient and that they were certified on a regular basis by external auditors. conomy Minister Sigmar Gabriel has told lawmakers from his center-left Social Democrat (SPD) party that he wants to look into creating a public body to oversee the multibillion-euro risks associated with the nuclear switch-off.

The government is sounding out the option of subjecting the balance sheets of the four nuclear power plant operators to a stress test to ensure their provisions are adequate.

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber, Markus Wacket, Vera Eckert and Chris Steitz, editing by William Hardy)

April 22, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, Germany | Leave a comment

Secret funding of Israel’s nuclear bomb, by West Germany

West Germany ‘secretly funded Israel’s nuclear bomb’, despite Israel denials, Telegraph UK
Former chancellor Konrad Adenauer has long been accused of secretly channelling hundreds of millions of dollars into Israel’s nuclear programme in the 1960s  
By Justin Huggler, Berlin 14 Apr 2015

 West Germany secretly funded the development of Israel’s nuclear weapons, a German newspaper has claimed, despite Israeli denials.

Welt newspaper repeated long-standing allegations that the government of former chancellor Konrad Adenauer secretly channelled hundreds of millions of dollars into Israel’s nuclear programme in the 1960s.

The newspaper insisted the claims were true, despite a categorical denial earlier this month from Shimon Peres, the former Israeli president, who was in charge of the nuclear weapons project at the time.

In a detailed report, Welt claimed the funds were disguised as a $500 million (£338 million) loan for the development of the Negev desert.

The arrangement was agreed at a meeting between Mr Adenauer and David Ben-Gurion, the Israeli prime minister, in New York in 1960, the newspaper claimed.

The agreement was informal and was never scrutinised by the West German cabinet or parliament.

It was known as “Aktion Geschäftsfreund”, or “Operation Business Associate” by the West German foreign ministry.

The funds were channelled to Israel through the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, a government-owned development bank.

The bank has declined to release details of its payments to Israel under the programme………

Explicit details and photographs of its weapons project were leaked by Mordechai Vanunu, a former nuclear technician, in 1986.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/11535629/West-Germany-secretly-funded-Israels-nuclear-bomb-despite-Israel-denials.html

April 15, 2015 Posted by | Germany, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Germany’s nuclear power companies have not set aside sufficient funds for nuclear decommissioning

flag_germanyNuclear plant closure money insufficient – German gov’t report http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/20/germany-utilities-nadal-idUSB4N0VR00V20150320

BERLIN, March 20 Fri Mar 20, 2015 (Reuters) – A report commissioned by the German government believes nuclear power firms have not set aside enough money to cover the long-term costs of decommissioning plants, according to a copy of the report seen by Reuters on Friday.

The report from the law firm Becker Buettner Held said the 36 billion euros already set aside by Germany’s four nuclear operators E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Sweden’s Vattenfall was insufficient and meant the costs could fall on the public purse.

The report added the government should consider legal measures which would force the parent companies of nuclear power plant operators to assume liability in the case ofbankruptcy. (Reporting by Markus Wacket; Writing by Caroline Copley; Editing by Stephen Brown)

March 21, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, Germany | Leave a comment

Anti nuclear rallies in over 200 German towns

Protest-No!flag_germanyBy Diet Simon, 17 Mar 15   About 12,000 anti-nuclear activists demonstrated in recent days in more than 200 German towns in commemoration of the Fukushima catastrophe four years ago and against the current nuclear situation in Germany.

There were pickets, and rallies in Neckarwestheim, Düsseldorf, Berlin und Dannenberg. The demos focused on the aging nuclear power station in Germany, waste issues and the evil methods energy companies are employing to dodge their responsibilities.

Obviously not as many people took to the streets as immediately following the Fukushima catastrophe, so the more than 200 events were all the more noteworthy. Countless local newspapers reported on them. It was a successful reminder of the nuclear dangers, pulling the issue back into public focus.

Tenacity is a special strength of the German anti-nuclear movement.

Staring Thursday this week (19 March) many selected German cinemas will show an antinuclear film,  „Die Reise zum sichersten Ort der Erde“ (The journey to the safest place on earth) dealing with the unsolved problem of disposing nuclear waste.

Many activists have talked to their local cinemas to run it so as to reach the biggest possible public (schedule of showings). Most found that it needed just a phone call or a face-to-face conversation to persuade cinema operators to show it.

As part of special screenings experts discuss with audiences about the film and its pressing question, where to with our life-threatening waste.

 

The film will also screen at the Environmental Filmfestival in Washington DC, from 17 to 29 March.

 

Some media comment: “A film about insanity” (Grit Lemke, DOK Leipzig); “Unideological and with unshakeable belief in a public who can think for themselves” (Saiten Ostschweizer Kulturmagazin); “A magnificent documentary film” (Susan Boos, Die Wochenzeitung); “Most watchable” (Susanna Petrin, Aargauer Zeitung); “Excellent documentation” (Blick);

“Looking away is forbidden” (Hans Nüsseler, Swiss television).

 

Production: Mira Film GmbH | Weststrasse 182 | CH-8003 Zürich | Tel +41 (0) 43 960 3684 | info@mirafilm.chwww.mirafilm.ch

 

World distribution: Autlook Weltvertrieb |  Spittelberggasse 3/14 | A-1070 Wien I Tel +43 720 34 69 34 Iwelcome@autlookfilms.comwww.autlookfilms.com

 

The film’s website: http://www.diereisezumsicherstenortdererde.ch/de/

March 18, 2015 Posted by | Germany, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Thousands of Germans rally in anti-nuclear protest, remembering Fukushima

protest-nuclearVIDEO: German protesters call for end to nuclear power as they remember Fukushima http://www.euronews.com/2015/03/08/german-protesters-call-for-end-to-nuclear-power-as-they-remember-fukushima/Thousands of demonstrators have called for an end to nuclear energy during a rally in Neckarwestheim, in southern Germany.

They gathered in the town, home to a nuclear plant, to remember Japan’s Fukushima disaster four years ago.

Protesters chanted “switch off,” while holding banners reading “Fukushima out of control” and carrying mock coffins.

An earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi plant, 220 kilometres northeast of Tokyo, in March 2011. It sparked nuclear meltdowns, forcing more than 160-thousand residents to flee from nearby towns and contaminating water, food and air.

March 9, 2015 Posted by | Germany, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Japan to discuss renewable energy co-operation

flag_germanyflag-japanMerkel to discuss Germany’s nuclear exit, cooperation on renewable energy during Japan trip, Fox Business, March 07, 2015 BERLIN –  German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she plans to use her upcoming trip to Japan to discuss how Berlin and Tokyo can cooperate to expand the use of renewable energy.

Merkel will visit Japan on Monday and Tuesday as part of a series of bilateral meetings with G-7 leaders ahead of a June summit in Germany.

Germany sped up its exit from nuclear energy after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011.

Merkel said in a weekly online address Saturday that Germany was “now strongly emphasizing renewable energy. And I believe Japan should go down this road too — and it is.”….http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2015/03/07/merkel-to-discuss-germany-nuclear-exit-cooperation-on-renewable-energy-during/

March 9, 2015 Posted by | Germany, Japan, politics international | Leave a comment

Absolute NO to tax-payer funded nuclear power

text-my-money-2flag-EUGermany says using tax money for nuclear power ‘out of the question’ BY BARBARA LEWIS AND TOM KOERKEMEIER BRUSSELS Thu Mar 5, 2015 (Reuters) – Using taxpayers’ money to fund nuclear power is “absolutely out of the question”, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Thursday, in an apparent swipe at British plans to finance new atomic generation.

Gabriel was arriving for talks in Brussels on the European Commission’s proposal for an energy union, which would deepen cross-border cooperation on energy across the 28-member EU…….

“There are countries in the EU that want to support nuclear power with tax money. We think that is absolutely out of the question,” Gabriel said.

“We will not agree by any means that nuclear energy be supported by public money. Nuclear energy is the most expensive kind of generation. It has now been around for 50 years, it is not new and it is dangerous.”

Gabriel did not directly mention Britain’s plans to finance new nuclear generation to be built by French utility EDF at Hinkley Point in southwest England.

The European Commission last year approved state aid for the 16 billion pound ($25 billion) plan, drawing fierce criticism and legal action from those who say the subsidy distorts competition.

On Wednesday, a German energy cooperative announced it would take legal action against Britain’s plan to pay a guaranteed price for power produced at Hinkley Point….. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/05/us-eu-energy-nuclear-idUSKBN0M115Q20150305

March 6, 2015 Posted by | EUROPE, Germany, politics international | Leave a comment

Top legal adviser backs German government levy on nuclear fuel

justiceflag-EURWE, EON Fall as Court Aide Backs German Nuclear-Fuel Tax by   
February 3, 2015 (Bloomberg) — EON SE fell the most in a month and RWE AG had its steepest plunge since mid-December after an adviser to the European Union’s top court backed a German levy on nuclear fuel that the country’s biggest utilities have been fighting as illegal.

EON declined 3.92 percent, to 13.375 euros a share at the close in Frankfurt, and RWE fell 4.55 percent to 23.905 euros a share after Advocate General Maciej Szpunar of the EU Court of Justice said in a non-binding opinion that the German nuclear-fuel tax doesn’t violate EU rules. The Luxembourg-based court follows such advice in most cases.

German’s unprecedented switch to renewables has forced traditional utilities to close nuclear reactors and seen power prices slide for a fourth year. Essen-based RWE hasn’t ruled out following EON’s lead in breaking itself up.

 The EU court’s ruling, which is expected within four to six months, will help decide the outcome of pending lawsuits by companies including RWE and EON against the country’s nuclear-fuel tax. German utilities won rulings in Hamburg and Munich, while a Stuttgart court cleared the tax………

Germany’s so-called energy shift has forced utilities to close nuclear reactors and undermined power prices. The nuclear fuel tax also contributed to harming the companies’ profitability from 2011. EON’s plan to break itself up is the most radical response yet to the changes.

Nuclear exit is at the core of other pending litigation in Germany and the country’s top court is reviewing the constitutionality of the nuclear-exit laws and the fuel tax. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-03/german-nuclear-fuel-tax-in-line-with-eu-law-aide-says

February 4, 2015 Posted by | EUROPE, Germany, Legal | Leave a comment

Germany’s Constitutional Court will hear nuclear utilities’ complaints about early nuclear shutdowns

justiceGerman court to decide on nuclear exit complaints this year Tuesday, January 27, 2015 CSTDUESSELDORF/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Germany’s highest court aims to decide this year on complaints filed by the country’s biggest utilities against a decision to shut down its nuclear plants earlier than initially planned, a court spokesman said on Tuesday.

E.ON , RWE and Vattenfall [VATN.UL] filed complaints with the Constitutional Court after the government imposed a stricter closure timetable in 2011 as a result of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan……..

The court will not decide on individual damages claims – estimated to total at least 15 billion euros ($17 billion) – but its decision could provide the legal basis for such motions should it rule the government’s decision is illegal.

The court spokesman said he could not be more precise about the timing of the ruling, adding it still needed to be decided whether a hearing would take place.

RWE, Germany’s second-biggest utility, said it expects a ruling in the second half of the year.

The complaints are part of a number of legal steps being pursued by RWE and its peers over Germany’s nuclear policy, including a nuclear fuel tax and the immediate three-month shutdown of all of its nuclear power stations following the Fukushima disaster.

($1 = 0.8787 euros)

(Reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff and Christoph Steitz; Editing by Maria Sheahan and John Stonestreet) http://kfgo.com/news/articles/2015/jan/27/german-court-to-decide-on-nuclear-exit-complaints-in-2015/

January 27, 2015 Posted by | Germany, Legal | Leave a comment

Under France’s nuclear waste dump – a geothermal energy source!

flag-franceThe Inconvenience of a Geothermic Energy Source Under France’s Nuke Waste Dump http://nf2045.blogspot.com.au/2015/01/the-inconvenience-of-geothermic-energy.html

The French weekly newspaper Le Canard enchaîné provides aggressive and biting coverage of the nuclear establishment in a way that mainstream media refrain from doing. Le Canard has been in print since 1915, except for a period during the German occupation when it was forced to close. The journal had a moment of international fame in September 2013 when it ran satirical cartoons about Tokyo being awarded the 2020 Olympics in spite of Japan’s troubles containing its nuclear catastrophe.

Unfortunately for readers who would like easy access to its reporting,Le Canard has stuck to its policy of being print-only……..

highly-recommendedNuclear Waste on the Aquifer by Professor Canardeau translation of Des déchets (nucléaires) sur la nappeLe Canard enchaîné December 2014

A huge pocket of warm water exists beneath what is supposed to be France’s largest nuclear garbage pit, located near the town Bure. This site is destined to store, for at least 100,000 years, the most dangerous high-level waste that has accumulated since France built its first reactor. 125 meters tall, 30 kilometers wide and dozens of kilometers long, this reserve of warm water could sooner or later be used to produce heat or energy. The water is a comfortable 66 degrees, but it is found at a depth of 1,800 meters, while the nuclear waste is to be buried above it at a depth of 500 meters.

justiceOn January 5, 2015, the agency for the management of radioactive waste (ANDRA) will find itself on trial in high court in Nanterre for having divulged false information concerning the supposed absence of concern about significant underground water tables at the site in Bure. The citizen groups Sortir du nucléaireand Stop Bure 55, and Mirabel Lorraine Nature Environnement have brought the charges.

Some background: Continue reading

January 26, 2015 Posted by | ENERGY, Germany, Legal, Reference | Leave a comment

Subsidies to coal and nuclear power cost German electricity consumers €40bn a year

Fossils and nuclear ‘twice RE’s cost’ to German taxpayers  http://www.rechargenews.com/wind/1388925/fossils-and-nuclear-twice-res-cost-to-german-taxpayers By Bernd Radowitz in Berlin , January 16 2015 Subsidies and hidden costs of fossil-fired and nuclear power in 2015 are slated to be about double the amount German consumers pay via a surcharge on their electricity bill to finance the expansion of renewable energies, claims a study by the forum for ecological and social market economy (FÖS) commissioned by Greenpeace Energy.

German electricity consumers via the EEG surcharge pay about €20bn ($23bn) per year to finance the build-up of solar, wind, biomass and other renewable energies, while the hidden costs of conventional power sources both in 2014 and 2015 reach some €40bn a year, the study says.

Included are direct subsidies and financial concessions, as well as external costs society has to come up with for environmental damage or the final storage of nuclear waste.

“Renewable energies aren’t just cleaner, but in the end also significantly cheaper than coal or nuclear,” says Marcel Keiffenheim, head of politics and communication atGreenpeace Energy, an independent power provider.

fossil-fuels-Germany

“But the problem is that the high costs of coal and nuclear are hidden from power clients and are being paid indirectly via taxes and other contributions.

The scientists behind the study emphasise that renewable energies aren’t driving up the cost of power supply as had been argued frequently in fierce discussions in Germany about power prices – but on the contrary replace more expensive energy sources that have higher costs to taxpayers and society.

“If utilities had to take into account those additional costs in their calculations, renewable energies already today to a great degree would be competitive,” said Swantje Küchler, who led the study for FÖS.

A kilowatt hour of wind power from newly-built machines now costs between €0.051 and €0.087, while nuclear power including the hidden costs would come at a price of €0.185-€0.498, lignite at a cost of €0.126-€0.141, and hard coal at a cost of €0.147-€0.167, the study says.

January 17, 2015 Posted by | Germany, politics | Leave a comment

25% renewable energy – the biggest contributor to Germany’s electricity production

logo-EnergiewendeGermany Exceeds 25% Renewable Energy http://www.energymatters.com.au/renewable-news/germany-25percent-renewables-em4621/ 2014 is the first year renewable energy has been the major source in Germany’s electricity generation mix.

According to preliminary surveys by the German Association of Energy and Water (BDEW), renewable energy based electricity generation reached 25.8 percent this year; up from 24.1 percent last year. Renewables provided 27.3 percent of gross domestic electricity consumption in 2014.

Electricity from renewables increased from 152.4 to 157.4 billion kilowatt-hours (expected). Wind turbines contributed 52.4 billion kWh and solar panel systems generated 35.2 billion kWh – the latter almost 14 percent more power than last year.

Biomass electricity production was up five percent from 46.6 billion kWh to 48.9 billion kWh and electricity generation from hydroelectric power reached 20.8 billion kWh.

Coal-fired power in Germany during 2014 was 10% less than in 2013. Coal’s share in the nation’s energy mix dropped to 18%. Gas-fired power plants dropped to 9.7% and nuclear energy’s share increased by half a percent to 15.9%.

2014 saw all sorts of new renewable energy related records set in Germany. Most recently, wind power achieved a new record of 29.7 GW peak power production on December 12. According to the Fraunhofer Institute, wind based electricity production on that day was 562 GWh.

” Both figures represent new records,” says Prof. Dr. Bruno Burger. ” The last records of 5th of December 2013 with a maximum power of 26.3 GW and a daily energy of 485 GWh have been exceeded by 13% resp. 16%.”

On a day in April this year, renewables made up nearly 3/4 of peak domestic German power demand.

By the end of October this year, Germany had 35.062 GW of onshore wind capacity and 616 MW offshore. Installed solar power capacity had reached 38.124 GW.

December 31, 2014 Posted by | Germany, renewable | Leave a comment

Pathetic selling effort by the nuclear industry carpet-baggers

The so-called luminaries attempting to sell (or should that be “shill”) Mad Maxatomstrom are lightweights like Robert Stone who, having made a bad propaganda documentary about nuclear energy sees himself as some kind of expert. Also on the list is Patrick Moore, the notorious paid proponent not only of nuclear but the chemical industry, (as in bring back DDT), the genetic engineering industry, and clear-cut logging. (How does any self-respecting reporter still dare to refer to him as an “environmentalist”?) And then there’s the blinkered Barry Brook who wrongly claimed that North Korea never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and buys the completely discredited IAEA-WHO death figure of 60 for the Chernobyl disaster.

The obvious conclusion is that Mad Maxatomstrom is another desperate, last-ditch attempt by the nuclear coven to cling on to a corner of the energy sector, at least in the mind’s eye if not in the actual marketplace

carpetbagger

The Nuclear Carpet-Baggers http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/23/mad-maxatomstrom-just-here-for-the-money/  Mad Maxatomstrom: Just Here for the Money by LINDA PENTZ GUNTER

Except there won’t be much. Money that is. Because the Mad Maxatomstrom plan is to carpet-bag into Germany and try to sell them on nuclear energy and only nuclear energy. Yes, you read that right, Mad Maxatomstrom is Germany’s “first provider of 100 percent nuclear power.” (Okay, the company is actually called Maxatomstrom, but the business plan is so mad, who could resist?)

I say “carpet-bag” because notably all the “spokespeople” are anglo-saxon, most of them pulled from the Evangelical School of Nuclear Deniers. They are also all male and all white. Make of that what you choose.

It’s fitting that this new all-nuclear energy company was apparently launched by a member of Germany’s so-called Pirate Party (it has no members of Parliament.) When I first read the press release I thought it was a spoof. It’s also telling that the company could not find a single, prominent German spokesperson.

And I say “not much money” because there are so many other better and equally competitive, if not cheaper, electricity choices already in Germany, some of which are providers of 100% renewable energy. Germany-based anaylst Craig Norris ran the Maxatomstrom numbersand got “three different offers, each around 50 euros a month – an absolutely unremarkable outcome (it’s basically what I pay right now for 100 percent green power.)” So these pirates won’t really be doing so well in the plundering-the-German-people department.

Mad Maxatomstrom claims it already boasts 3,000 customers! Wow, that’s just a tenth of the amount of people still employed in Germany’s declining nuclear sector, and about 100th of the people employed in the growing renewable energy sector. The local Mom and Pop corner store probably does better. Continue reading

December 26, 2014 Posted by | Germany, marketing | Leave a comment

Germany models the way to cut greenhouse gases, for a coal-free, nuclear-free future

logo-EnergiewendeThe international community has at its disposal more than sufficient renewable resources and the technical capabilities to sustainably harvest these sources. And given the total cost calculations mentioned earlier, we have a moral responsibility to do so. The time for a transition, then, is now. An Energiewende by any other name will still smell as sweet

How Germans Go Green Germany is laying out a model for how to gut greenhouse gas emissions.US News.com By  and  Dec. 9, 2014  With the German government’s reaffirmation this month of carbon emissions reduction goals of 40 percent by 2020, and its courageous commitment to phase out coal, the country is now leading the world with an aggressive and unparalleled climate action plan. This sets a new bar for nations gathering in Lima, Peru, for climate talks.

Germany’s energy transition, or Energiewende, and its aggressive goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 is a direct result of experiencing, firsthand, the risks that come with dirtier and more dangerous fuels. Germany first targeted nuclear and now it’s targeting coal – and for good reason.

Phasing out nuclear energy was a decision based on two factors Germans found so convincing that they now won’t even accept nuclear power as a bridge technology: the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe and the question of nuclear waste storage.

The decision to opt-out of nuclear power started with Chernobyl, and the nuclear contamination of Germany 28 years ago, and it ended with the Fukushima disaster. By then, nuclear power had lost all traction with the German public. Additionally, there was no conclusive evidence of how to deal with nuclear waste responsibly. This meant that the true cost of producing a kilowatt-hour of nuclear energy remained unknown, leaving most Germans skeptical.

That nuclear rationale is relevant to Germany’s current response to coal. While coal’s catastrophic risks may not be as immediately visible as Chernobyl or Fukushima, the costs are equally immense. Both nuclear and coal come with an incredibly high capacity to contaminate natural resources. And nuclear and coal pollutants don’t disappear over time. They accumulate and contaminate quickly and the consequences will be borne most heavily by future generations.

On nuclear, disposing radioactive waste in deep rock formations with high radiation density and little geological activity is not a sustainable option. Leaks are likely and already occurring. On coal, a vast quantity of heavy metals, toxins and radioactive substances are emitted by all power plants that use coal for electricity generation. Even the most modern and effective filters do not enable coal-fired power plants to be zero emission.

Coal-fired power plants, in particular, emit large amounts of greenhouse gases that have a direct impact on global warming and the inevitable rise of sea levels, as well as extreme weather events. And coal’s contaminating potential is indiscriminate, transcending boundaries and borders, and equally culpable for catastrophic consequences…………….

A responsible alternative, then, if carbon taxes and trading mechanisms are unfeasible or fallible, is to ramp up renewable energy investments, as Germany has done with its Energiewende and will continue to do. And why not: The international community has at its disposal more than sufficient renewable resources and the technical capabilities to sustainably harvest these sources. And given the total cost calculations mentioned earlier, we have a moral responsibility to do so. The time for a transition, then, is now. An Energiewende by any other name will still smell as sweet. http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/world-report/2014/12/09/germany-commits-to-alternative-energy-not-coal-or-nuclear

December 10, 2014 Posted by | Germany, renewable | Leave a comment

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