On March 21, 2007, Spiegel Online published an article by Roland Nelles titled Germany Plans Boom in Coal-Fired Power Plants — Despite High Emissions.
The article reports that there are 26 new coal fired power stations planned for construction in the next few years in Germany. The coal will be imported from Poland or South Africa for some of the plants and some of the plants will burn lignite – brown coal – mined in the former East Germany.
The governing coalition of the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Green Party has given a head nod to these projects, and there is apparently little that local governments can do under German law. Once the federal government gives its approval to build a power station, the locals do not have a legal means of challenge.
The fascinating part comes on page two of the article where Mr. Nelles points out that Germany has a readily available choice about whether or not to build these coal fired power stations. His recommendation is to abandon the current plan of shutting down the existing nuclear power stations. As he points out, Angela Merkel’s Social Democrats already is on record as favoring the reversal of the decision to phase out nuclear power, while her coalition partners want to hold tightly to that self defeating goal. Here is the closing paragraph for the story
Merkel also likes to talk about clean coal. But unlike Gabriel, there is a second exit strategy available to her: If she wins the national elections in 2009, she could join forces with Germany’s Free Democratic Party (FDP) and make the construction of numerous new coal-fired power plants superfluous — by abandoning the plan to phase out nuclear energy.
I would bet that German utilities could be persuaded to take the TXU path. Like that large Texas based utility they could abandon plans to build new coal fired power stations and replace them with plans to build new nuclear power stations. (The crafty businessman side of me says that might be the underlying plan anyway.)
That is the path that I highly recommend. Maybe some forward thinking German readers of Atomic Insights will suggest the same path – it seems like such an obvious solution unless you make your money by digging up East German coal, importing South African coal or installing mandatory pollution control equipment on new coal fired power stations.
One more thing – pebble bed reactors, the heat source for the Adams Engine(TM), was a German design originally invented by Rudolf Schulten. The pebble bed’s technical success and political failure in Germany is one worth a detailed study.