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35 Comments

  1. The Greens in Germany have signed their death certificates.

    Like John McCain aka Bruce Willis said : they are dead, they just don’t know it yet.

  2. Real kicker here is that they haven’t any real good reason to give nukes the boot! Why embrace the pain??

    1. It’s the romantic fantasy of living only on natural renewable energy. Germany has a history of romanticism, like the fantasy of an agrarian utopia that drove the Nazis to murder 30 million Slavs.

      1. And for romanticism and lunacy, let’s give a warm welcome to Google in the energy space.

        Sell your shares and run baby, run …

        1. If you want to understand why Germans have this issue with impractical romanticism, perhaps it’s Napoleon you want to be pointing your finger at, as hatred of the French occupiers (who justified themselves in Enlightenment terms) provoked the anti-Enlightenment backlash in Germany.

          1. I see your point, but in the case of Germany and its “Atomausstieg”, I think it may have more to do with another player – Russia. Since Gerhard Schroeder (the ex-German chancellor who created the Atomausstieg in the first place) started working for Russian oil and gas majors as a highly paid consultant in order to help expand Germany capacity for importing Russian gas (Nordstream project), many people have suspected that getting Germany off nuclear power is of major strategic importance for Russian gas exports and Gerhard Schroder was merely a pawn in this powerplay.

            Germany is an influential country in Europe – perhaps the most influential. If Germany could be made nuclear-power-free, the rest of Europe might well follow it’s lead, which would inevitably lead to a permanent, large market for high-priced Russian natural gas and it would all but solidify Europe’s dependence. On the other hand, if Europe should ever go the way of France and build nuclear power, then the lucrative market for Russian natural gas in Europa would all but dry up and Europe would become independent from Russia. It seems clear to me that there are powerfull forces at work trying to eliminate nuclear power in Europe, and Germany may be the beachhead of this assault. Unfortunately, it appears that Fukushima was the lucky break needed by the aggressor in order to clear the beach.

          2. Joris van Dorp,

            German romantic environmentalism was the reason though why Gerhard Schröder (and other anti-nuclear politicians) were not seen as the Russophile quislings that they were.

        2. Can we talk about Germany please without immediate mentioning of Nazi’s?
          Not in this case, unless you wish to sacrifice discussion on the altar of knee-jerk touchiness. Green movement shares foundation (google Richard Walther Darré and Blut und Boden) of its bucolic nonsense utopism with the similar Nazi dreams, which makes it valid point. Remember, if you start protesting “ad Hitlerum” every time someone mentions Nazis, then by definition you are going to miss the point every time the connection actually exists.

          1. Thanks for that!

            If anything, the modern Green dreams are more insane than the Nazi dreams, because at least 1930s Germany still had millions of poor peasant farmers (they were a key Nazi constituency, while the urban poor had tended to support the Communists or the SPD), while Europe today is an almost entirely urbanized society!

            According to Germany’s 1937 census, 29% of the workforce worked solely in agriculture. In addition to this, many farmers’ wives worked full-time on their farms without pay (the REAL reason why Germany employed fewer women in its war factories than the Allied countries — they were tied up on the farm) and there were also lots of tiny allotments worked by part-timers. Chapter 6 (“Saving the Peasants”) of Adam Tooze’s history of the Nazi economy (“The Wages of Destruction”) goes into detail about how Hitler’s promises of Lebensraum were music to the ears of Germany’s long-suffering peasantry.

            Also the Nazis held an enormous annual harvest festival whose attendances were even greater than those at the famous Nuremberg Rallies — interestingly enough they were near Hamelin (of Pied Piper infamy). 😉

  3. “The Greens in Germany have signed their death certificates.”

    Yes – They will learn the simple lesson, “It’s the economy, stupid!” The Germans may want to keep their lights on and refrigerators running. I think they will want cold beer.

    Where are they getting the coal? Is it high sulfur coal? Did they forget about the black forest trees dying? It’s not just the emissions. The ash must be disposed of. There will be more waste in volume to dispose of than they’d have with the nuke plants. Granted, they may be able to recycle this in roads, gypsum board and ash block.

    Odd that they can’t simply look to the South and see the success of their neighbor, France.

      1. And that’s exactly why the Greens aren’t dead in Germany, and won’t be. When the wind dies in Germany, they will simply import energy from France (or Czech Republic, or Sweden) at high prices. German consumers will pay the high prices happily, and rationalize their decision as the cost of going “green”.

        They they will pat themselves on the back for eliminating nuclear, all unmindful of the nuclear energy they must import on a regular basis to make their wind and solar grid operational.

        1. “And that’s exactly why the Greens aren’t dead in Germany, and won’t be. When the wind dies in Germany, they will simply import energy from France (or Czech Republic, or Sweden) at high price”

          Sweden will not be able to export a large amount of energy for a long time. Harder rules on hydro power will reduce the available amount of hydro power with around 6-7 TWh. Another 8-9 TWh might be lost if the greens get their will through with closer of Oskarshamn 1 and Ringhals 1. If that happens Sweden might need to import electricity.

          1. This is interesting. Greens I talk to often tell me that Scandinavia has a lot of potential for pumped-hydro storage and could serve Europe’s demand for cheap storage under and all renewables European energy paradigm. I studied this question some years ago and found that the question had already been analysed. It turns out that Scandinavia – at best – could supply several dozens of GW-days of additional pumped hydro storage capacity if environmental protection is deemed important. If environmental protection is ignored, then perhaps on the order of a hundred GW-days of storage would be feasible to be developed.

            From what you are saying, Scandinavian Greens are already hard at work to block the development of even the environmenally benign potential, let along the environmentally destructive part. Methinks Scandinavian Greens need to talk to their counterparts in continental Europe …

            By the way, I calculated the demand for cheap storage in Europa under an all-renewables electricity scenario some years ago and concluded that on he order of several thousand GW-days of electricity storage would be needed if biomass was not part of the energy mix. Clearly, scandinavian pumped-hydro potential is a drop in the bucket even if environmental concerns around hydro-projects is tossed out the window.

        2. The German people seem to have a big stomach for digesting inconvenient truths. Back when cheap Chinese PV imports killed-off 80% of the German solar business, I thought the German Greens would be crucified, but they weren’t. When big German industrial companies started moving their operations to the USA (and other countries) because of the low energy costs *and* low co2 intensity (compared the Germany) of the USA (due to the shale gas bubble), I thought the German Greens would be crucified, but they weren’t. When the German court agreed that the German nuclear power operators were right to demand (massive) damages from the German government due to the illegal shut-down of nuclear power plants, I thought the German Greens would be crucified, but they weren’t. When the EU started their investigation into illegal German state aid concerning its “Energiewende” energy policy (which could lead to yet more billions of euro’s in fines and damages eventually) I thought the German Greens would be ….

          Well anyway, I think it will be a long time before German Greens get crucified over any of the myriad things that are going wrong with the Energiewende. Somehow they always manage to blame someone else when somethings goes belly-up. Somehow, they never become the center of attention when the shit hits the fan. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that nobody wants to be seen to attack them? Perhaps other politicians shy away from attacking Greens because they are so cute and cuddly, and it wouldn’t go down well with the voter? Even if attacking the Greens is justified? Who knows. Clearly though, there will come a time of reckoning sooner or later…

          1. Perhaps it’s because the German people are not feeling the full negative impact of their government’s green policies, because of the way Germany has exploited the Euro to export unemployment to Southern Europe.

    1. They are burning Lignite in the new boilers. – From Wikipedia ->

      Lignite, often referred to as brown coal, is a soft brown combustible sedimentary rock that is formed from naturally compressed peat. It is considered the lowest rank of coal due to its relatively low heat content. It is mined in Bulgaria, Greece, Germany, Poland, Serbia, Russia, the United States, Canada, India, Australia and many other parts of Europe and it is used almost exclusively as a fuel for steam-electric power generation. 25.7% of Germany’s electricity comes from lignite power plants,[1] while in Greece lignite provides about 50% of its power needs.

      It is not used in most (all?) states in the USA due to both state and EPA regulations. Most of the “Dirt Burners” were either retired or converted to NG and the used as peaking units.

      From what I read on the net, they claim that the emissions are acceptable, it is much cleaner than years ago, etc. However, they would have to be sacrificing a lot of output power to do that. Again the secret is that the electric companies hook the generator up to the grid, that goes through the “output” meter. Then pull the supporting loads back off of the grid through the services meter. Gives them a bigger cost for materials expense for taxes. Wind/Solar do the same thing.

  4. Wikipedia says this:

    Primarily because of latent high moisture content of brown coal, carbon dioxide emissions from traditional brown-coal-fired plants are generally much higher than for comparable black-coal plants, with the world’s highest-emitting being Hazelwood Power Station, Victoria.[

    So – The Germans are shutting down their nukes and will be burning coal. Not just any coal, but the worst kind. Interesting.

    1. German news magazine Der Spiegel says their consumption of lignite is as high as since reunification with the East in the early 1990s.
      http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/researchers-alarmed-at-rise-in-german-brown-coal-power-output-a-942216.html

      Sometimes, they need to relocate entire towns to get at the stuff. Lignite is generally taken from open-pit mines.
      http://www.thelocal.de/20130908/51811

      Still, fear of nuclear radiation appears to be a stronger emotion than concern over how much CO2 the country emits, or even the number of respiratory illnesses and deaths will result from all of that lignite/coal combustion. The irony is coal plants emit much more radiation to the environment than a normally operating nuclear power plant. Coal often contains uranium, thorium and other radioactive elements that mostly end up in the ash dumped on the ground.

  5. To summarize, the increased generation from wind (12.9 TWh), solar (14.7 TWh), and hydro/biomass (12.7 TWh) during the period (all together accounting for 40.3 TWh), was roughly equal to entire deficit created by shutting down the eight nuclear plants in 2011 (41.1 TWh).

    One would be tempted to observe the logical fallacy of “equating” wind and solar with reliable thermal generation — but the author (Paul Lorenzini) already has. Still, of the reliable new generation mentioned, biomass does not burn itself: on an energy basis biomass typically constitutes about 15% of a plant’s feed stock, the remaining 85% being… coal. (Ref: Biomass Cofiring: A Renewable Alternative for Utilities). At the end of the day what matters is the amount of fossil carbon freed to keep the lights on.

  6. Years ago when I was growing up on a farm, when any of the corn had to high a moisture content, was not fully formed due to the growing season or got nocked over in a storm, we took stocks, corn and all to the feedmill. They grinded it up and we hauled it back for feedstock for the livestock – pigs, horses, and cattle all ate it. Even the chickens ate what they didn’t. Asking my dad why would they eat cornstalks he said the stalk has as much if not more nutrients than the same weight of grass, it’s just dry, not the highest quality but better than going to waste.

    I wonder if we get enough “heat” or “ethanol” out of “biomass” compared to its nutrition value to livestock? I really would like to see a non biased cost-benefit analysis on “Green Power.”

  7. @Rich: In this context I believe “biomass” refers mostly to wood — waste and otherwise. Cornstalk may be used for cellulosic ethanol (if any), but there are regulations limiting take to 25%, the remainder must remain on the land. That would be okay if the harvested kernels were used for food rather than ethanol. Corn ethanol — ethanol produced from corn kernels themselves — is an energetic, economic, and social travesty. To the considerable extent that new (not previously cultivated) prairie land is now being plowed and planted for corn ethanol, more carbon is released from the soil and lost from loss of native vegetation than is (net) saved from the ethanol produced. It is only subsidies that make the operation profitable for farmers, few of whom are happy with the resulting degradation of the land they’ve charged themselves to conserve. The EROEI almost breaks even.

      1. Thanks, I will use that. Someone should find out exactly who this Dr. Paolo Scampa is ,whether he really has any qualifications, and debug his analysis and post it somewhere.

        1. Just Googled a bit, and found his resume on this page:

          http://www.unibo.it/Faculty/default.htm?TabControl1=TabCV&mat=031858

          At first I thought that it was another Paolo Scampa, since it only mentioned psychology and languages, but hey, it looks like our new hero of antinuclearism is yet another someone that knows little to nothing about nuclear, yet is labeled as “Dr. Paolo Scampa, PhD, a well-known physicist in the European Union”.

          Never heard of him, not even on the Italian media. And I am Italian! Go figure.

  8. “First, the nuclear phase out did not result in an increase in coal plant construction. … Germany’s coal construction plans predated the nuclear phase out …”
    Got to disagree. The phase-out was the German government’s policy from 2000, long before the new coal plants were planned. (It was widely expected that Merkel would reverse that policy, as indeed she did in 2010, but then she re-reversed it in 2011.)

    Germany’s environment minister Sigmar Gabriel (Social Democratic Party) is pushing for the construction of new coal-fired power plants in Germany. “We need eight to twelve new coal plants if we want to get out of nuclear energy,” Gabriel said [in 2009] at a meeting of the Mainz-Wiesbaden AG (KMW) in Mainz. With regard to the opponents of the planned coal-fired power in Mainz, the minister said: “Those who demonstrate against coal-fired power will get nuclear power plants instead.” Gabriel said, …

    http://cstpr.colorado.edu/prometheus/?p=5064
    And vice versa.

    1. Yes, two points in what Lorenzini writes are straight from the mouth of the anti-nuclear that claims to represent Germany to the outside world.

      First as you’ve just shown, the claim that coal plant construction had no link with the nuclear shut down.

      Second the claim that renewable replaced nuclear, and coal replaced gas. Actually it’s impossible to answer that question using the yearly production as is done here (and it’s surprising an energy professional wouldn’t know that). What replaced nuclear had to be mostly the energy source that had similar properties of availability all along the year.
      And as nuclear is a baseload production, the logical answer is another baseload production, coal.
      The volumes show that renewable production has been high enough that some of it has replaced nuclear, but first it erased the need to use the most expensive energy source, and last in merit order, gas.

    2. By the way, your quote about Sigmar Gabriel is one hell of a smoking gun.

      Demonstrates not only that the pro-coal forces in Germany perfectly well knew that renewable would not be able to replace nuclear, but that they *also* *knew* it wouldn’t be replaced by gas because that was too expensive, and they had planned the replacement by coal.

      The original German source was lost, but I’ve found a link to another copy. That’s so damning I wouldn’t be surprised if someone tried to claim the translation was wrong and he had never actually said that, so it’s good to have a link to the original text :
      http://www.strom-magazin.de/strommarkt/gabriel-betont-notwendigkeit-neuer-kohlekraftwerke_25429.html

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