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Nuclear phaseout proving to be a success in Germany

solar,-wind-aghastflag_germanyWe can let fission fizzle out in a renewable worldNew Scientist, 20 May 2013 by Jochen Flasbarth If Germany can phase out nuclear power and still thrive, why would other nations pursue a uranium-fuelled future?  AT THE start of this year Germany officially entered the Dark Ages again – at least according to its state weather service. A mere 22.5 hours of sunshine were recorded in January – a 60-year low. Despite this, the country’s power supply, which has a world leading input from solar panels, firmly stood its ground, even without the eight nuclear reactors that were switched off in 2011.There was sufficient energy for charging smartphones, running dishwashers and the like – and enough for slightly more essential things such as industry or life-support systems in hospitals. And people in need of a fake tan could easily get one.

Such good news probably did not go down well with the pro-nuclear lobby. Grim and cold spells of this type had been their favourite doomsday scenario. Talk of a Stromlücke, or electricity gap, made headlines after the 2011 decision to shut nearly half of Germany’s 17 reactors in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster.

The fear ran rampant that, without a nuclear backbone, blackouts might push German industry out of business – or at least out of the country. This proved groundless.Despite the reactor switch-offs, Germany was able to help nuclear neighbour France as she struggled to meet electric heating needs in the winter immediately after Fukushima. According to recent figures released by the Federal Statistical Office, German electricity exports in 2012hit a four-year high, which also rebuts the popular fallacy that the country relies on imported electricity from nuclear plants in France or the Czech Republic.

When a highly industrialised country such as Germany can cut a third of its nuclear capacity almost at the flick of a switch and still export more electricity than it imports, the pursuit of a nuclear renaissance elsewhere is puzzling. ……

Fortunately, there are far better alternatives. In 2010 my agency devised a study which showed how Germany could source all of its electric energy from sun, wind or water. Now the Energiewende, or energy transition, the country needs to make is high on the political agenda and gathering pace quickly. Remaining nuclear power stations will be shut by 2022 and fossil-fuel dependence reduced bit by bit.

Some fear carbon emissions will rise. However, Germany is still way ahead of its Kyoto target. In 2012 emissions were already down 25.5 per cent compared to 1990 levels. Under Kyoto only 21 per cent is expected. ……. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21829170.200-we-can-let-fission-fizzle-out-in-a-renewable-world.html

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May 27, 2013 - Posted by | Germany, renewable

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