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Japan Power Technology Politics

Germany To End Nuclear Power By 2022 822

dcollins writes "Germany on Monday announced plans to become the first major industrialized power to shut down all its nuclear plants in the wake of the disaster in Japan, with a phase-out due to be wrapped up by 2022... Germany has 17 nuclear reactors on its territory, eight of which are currently off the electricity grid... Already Friday, the environment ministers from all 16 German regional states had called for the temporary order on the seven plants to be made permanent... Monday's decision is effectively a return to the timetable set by the previous Social Democrat-Green coalition government a decade ago. And it is a humbling U-turn for Merkel, who at the end of 2010 decided to extend the lifetime of Germany's 17 reactors by an average of 12 years, which would have kept them open until the mid-2030s."
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Germany To End Nuclear Power By 2022

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  • By coincidence... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday May 30, 2011 @09:49AM (#36286098) Journal
    France has stated that it will open several new nuclear reactors before 2022, and will increase the amount of power that it exports to Germany.
  • so just how many (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mjwalshe ( 1680392 ) on Monday May 30, 2011 @09:56AM (#36286130)
    Tsunamis and earthquakes has Germany had in lets say the last 1000 years :-)
  • Let me see... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BlueParrot ( 965239 ) on Monday May 30, 2011 @10:07AM (#36286228)

    Oil is likely to run out or become very expensive during the next few decades, if plug in hybrids and electric cars is the most likely replacement for gasoline ( and it seems to be the case at the moment ) then much more electricity will be needed.

    Environmental concerns mandate a large reduction in the use of coal for electricity.
    EU-member states have committed to such reductions through several treaties and
    directives, and it is unlikely that they will simply be dropped.

    Wind cannot contribute a majority of electricity generation out of load levelling concerns.

    Solar is prohibitively expensive and only does well in Germany due to strong economic
    incentives that would be very costly to scale. It also doesn't work during the night, and large
    scale energy storage is prohibitively expensive.

    Scaling bio-mass to supply a nation the size of Germany would have a dramatic environmental
    impact associated with its cultivation, growth and combustion. It is presently very expensive for
    applications other than heating, and the more advanced bio-fuels (cellulosic ethanol ) that actually
    seem feasible are still experimental. Brazil kinda makes etanol from sugar cane work, but it is
    dubious if the practice would be sustainable outside of tropical climates.

    So basically unless they overturn this decision it seems likely that Germany will end up importing
    electricity or making themselves reliant on Russian natural gas. This is what happens when you make
    policy based on populism and wishful thinking rather than reality.

  • by Lifyre ( 960576 ) on Monday May 30, 2011 @10:08AM (#36286234)

    So their plan is to shutdown domestic nuclear power production without, from what I see, a corresponding increase in production from coal, gas, or "green" power sources. This means they'll be importing from places like France who are increasing their power production. While this is less of a concern now that they're all part of the warm and fuzzy EU brotherhood but Germany is handing the French (and any other country that will be doing the same, such as say the Netherlands) leverage in future negotiations.

    The only way I see this really working in the long term is if the EU becomes more of a Federalist system with the EU taking on the role of the Federal Government and the Member Nations taking on the role of the component states. Ultimately I think that may be a decent idea, obviously with more independence for the Member Nations than the states enjoy in the USA but with potential benefits. Keep in mind at this point it is purely idol speculation with no real knowledge on the issues this would generate or hurdles that would have to be jumped.

  • Concern (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Monday May 30, 2011 @10:09AM (#36286244)
    Natural gas and coal-fired power plants are not responsible alternatives to nuclear energy. Nuclear power does not belch out carbon monoxide and green house gases. By eschewing nuclear energy and blanketing as unsafe without looking into the technical problems and improving them, we may be headed down a entirely different wrong path. It seems like politicians the world around are excellent at making "large strategic decisions" without a clear, viable alternative. What about nuclear fusion? Where are we in that development?
  • by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) <ChristianHGrossNO@SPAMyahoo.ca> on Monday May 30, 2011 @10:25AM (#36286402)

    No debate with your points. But here are some other insights...

    Did you know to this day 20% of Belarus's farmland is unusable?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belarus [wikipedia.org]

    The problem is that nuclear has serious longterm issues like this. Sure there are less immediate deaths, but the longer term deaths related to nuclear are much higher. This is the fault of humanity that can't look beyond the next Apple announcement.

    So tell me how do you plan on making all of the land usable again? Oh wait I forgot you are not near any of these disasters and as such could not shive a ghit. Until it happens in your backyard!

  • Re:Serious question; (Score:5, Interesting)

    by siddesu ( 698447 ) on Monday May 30, 2011 @10:28AM (#36286432)

    Will you stop regurgitating that ancient crap, please?

    This is a quote of a 1978 study, commissioned by the nuclear lobby and performed by a nuclear laboratory, and it only states that a certain unfiltered coal plant may have insignificantly more "radioactive" particles within about a mile downwind from the chimney during times of normal operation. Your generation doesn't remember this, but at the time it was projected that the requirements for filters on the chimneys will bankrupt the coal power generation like, totally, and that we'll be running on nuclear within very short time.

    Since then many things happened, one of them being stringent air quality laws all over the developed world.

    Wonder why nobody has repeated this study to validate its outcome?

  • Re:Concern (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 30, 2011 @11:39AM (#36287018)

    What about nuclear fusion? Where are we in that development?

    The next generation experimental fusion reactor is currently under construction in south France. 10 years of construction, another 10 to 20 years of research. Next phase after that is building a demonstration power plant. When all that works and its proven that power can actually be delivered to the grid, then we can start building up infrastructure. Which will also take a few decades. Fusion is the future's power supply, but unfortunately we are living today and we desperately need something to tie us over.

    Oh, btw, because oil was so cheap in the 90's, nobody wanted to pay for fusion research. This delayed fusion research by about 10 years. What they are building right now in France is 10 years late and smaller than originally planned. yeah.... :(

    When I started studying physics at university, I was hopeful we could solve our problems. Now, 10 years later and after finishing my PhD (fusion related), I also understand economics, politics and human nature much better. We are fucked... I am running for the hills as soon as I can.

  • Re:By coincidence... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Patch86 ( 1465427 ) on Monday May 30, 2011 @12:05PM (#36287350)

    Another fun side effect is due to the carbon cap and trade scheme operated in the EU. If Germany wants to ramp up fossil fuel plants to solve the problem, they'll need to purchase carbon credits from "greener" nations (France with their nukes for one, and a lot of the smaller nations that have been going full tilt at renewables for two). And this from a country which is already (to paraphrase a BBC analyst who was on the news earlier today) close to "crippled" by "dangerously" high taxation levels.

    On the bright side, it's good news for those smaller EU countries that have been lagging behind Germany in terms of growth. It'll be a bit like a sort of international redistribution of wealth! Fun times.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 30, 2011 @12:51PM (#36288018)

    The ironic thing about Germany, is that other European nations with less regulations (and some with equal or more) will be building more nuclear power plants.

    For example, take Ukraine. Currently, about 50% of all electricity in Ukraine is nuclear power. Ukraine is the site of Chernobyl. Yet, Ukraine is planning on renewing and expanding their nuclear fleet in the next decades.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_in_Ukraine [wikipedia.org]

    The largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, is located in Ukraine. In 2006, the government planned to build 11 new reactors by the year 2030, in effect, almost doubling the current amount of nuclear power capacity.[3] Ukraine's power sector is the twelfth-largest in the world in terms of installed capacity, with 54 gigawatts (GW).[2] Renewable energy still plays a very modest role in electrical output; in 2005 energy production was met by the following sources: nuclear (47 percent), thermal (45 percent), hydroelectric and other (8 percent).[3]

    So why is Ukraine going to build more nuclear plants? Energy security. Once the gas pipeline from Russia is built under the Baltic sea, Ukraine will get cut off unless they pay same rates as rest of Europe.

    So, Germany may just kill its nuclear plants. But lots of the neighbors will not be killing theirs. Keep in mind, that Germany also had plans to kill their nuclear plants after Chernobyl, then they flip flopped and now they flip flopped again.

    Does this mean Germans trust Ukrainians or French more than they do themselves to run these plants safely??

  • by xehonk ( 930376 ) on Monday May 30, 2011 @01:31PM (#36288426)

    While personally I would prefer a nuclear over a fossil fuel plant, I read that nuclear reactors are too slow to react to the highly variable energy production by wind turbines and photo-voltaic installations which make up an increasingly large percentage of the energy production in Germany.

    If this is true, keeping the existing reactors running for an extended period would not be beneficial towards the goal of migrating to renewable energy sources.

    The only source I can find for this at the moment is http://www.taz.de/1/zukunft/umwelt/artikel/1/so-bleiben-sie-atomkraftgegner/ [www.taz.de] (in german) - I would love to hear someone with a better understanding of the subject matter than me address this (and maybe to the other claims in the article).

Solutions are obvious if one only has the optical power to observe them over the horizon. -- K.A. Arsdall