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Power Hardware

German Parliament Backs Nuclear Exit By 2022 364

fysdt sends this quote from an AFP report: "The German parliament sealed plans Friday to phase out nuclear energy by 2022, making the country the first major industrial power to take the step in the wake of the disaster at Japan's Fukushima plant. The nuclear exit scheme cleared its final hurdle in the Bundesrat upper house, which represents the 16 regional states, after the legislation passed the Bundestag lower house with an overwhelming majority last week. Germany's seven oldest reactors were already switched off after Japan's massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, causing reactors to overheat and radiation to leak. A further reactor has been shut for years because of technical problems."
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German Parliament Backs Nuclear Exit By 2022

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  • Moving on (Score:3, Informative)

    by bkmoore ( 1910118 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @12:31PM (#36696256)

    If any country has the engineering capacity to move off of Nuclear for base-load power, it is Germany. Blast Germany all you want to, but I hope they make it work. Maybe America could use a little more vision.

    Unless you have lived in Germany, you probably aren't aware just how controversial nuclear power has been, especially since the 1970s. Germany was planning on quitting Nuclear power once the useful life span of their reactors expired, but Chancellor Merkel reversed this decision in what was derisively known as the "Ausstieg aus dem Ausstieg" or in English, the "Exit from the Exit" from atomic energy. Then Fukushima happened on the eve of provincial elections in Baden-Wuertenberg. So she reversed course just in time, but her Christian Democratic Union still lost the election to the Green Party for the first time since the end of WW 2.

    I don't agree on Merkels U-Turns every time public opinion shifts, but I am in favor of ending Nuclear energy. The contaminated (evacuated) zone around Chernobyl is the size of Switzerland. If something similar happened in Germany, they would loose a major chunk of their country. Just food for thought.

    I'll probably go down in flames from the nuclear fanboys, this being /. and all. Sometimes, I think they are more afraid of someone finding an alternative than they are of an actual mishap. Maybe Nuclear power makes sense in a larger country such as the USA, or Russia in an isolated location. But in Germany, a mishap would be catastrophic and affect the livelihood of tens of millions of people. Yes, I do live in Germany.

  • by Annirak ( 181684 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @12:32PM (#36696264)

    The fundamental principle of the CANDU reactor design is the use of heavy water as a neutron moderator. Because water vaporizes at low temperatures, the reactor has a negative void coefficient, which means that overheating the reactor causes it to be inefficient at slowing neutrons, which reduces the reaction rate. This means that the CANDU reactor has an inherent negative feedback system and will effectively shut itself down if it overheats. This is not a control system, which can fail, this is a, quite literally, fail-safe design. If you crack the containment vessel and leak all the heavy water out, the reactor will shut down.

  • Re:Coal (Score:5, Informative)

    by The Great Pretender ( 975978 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @12:46PM (#36696488)
    Nice use of selective editing.

    "These include building new coal and gas power plants, although Berlin is sticking to its target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels, and by 80-95 percent by 2050.

    It also signed off on expanding wind energy, in a bid to boost the share of the country's power needs generated by renewable energies to 35 percent by 2020 from 17 percent at present.

    Germany is already far ahead of most of the world in alternative energy and this SHOULD force them to accelerate progress in the area, which will benefit all of us. The question is whether they stick to the road map.

  • by Wrath0fb0b ( 302444 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @12:53PM (#36696614)

    Since the first halt, Germany became a net power importer [] from France -- whereas it used to be the other way around. And of course France generates 80% of its power from nuclear []. So yeah, they aren't really doing anything except shuffling the plants around.

    France is going to make out pretty well from all this, probably going to end up as the major electricity producer on the continent. They are already reaping major economies of scale, having the [] electricity prices in Europe.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 08, 2011 @01:08PM (#36696846)

    Nuclear Operator at a CANDU station here...
    The increase in reactivity due to voiding in the CANDU is due to many factors but one of the causes is due to the interactions of faster than thermal neutrons at the resonance absorption frequency of U238.

    The positive void is dealt with by having a safety shutdown system that can respond in less than 2 seconds.

    Also, voiding tends to add about 4-6mk.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 08, 2011 @01:16PM (#36696946)

    Also I forgot to mention that slow neutrons cause fission (a few exceptions exist). Thus the point of having a moderator.

    Even if the reactivity drops to near 0, we still need to deal with decay heat. I heard something like one reactor at full power is as powerful as fifty 747's with their engines at full throttle. The same reactor when shutdown produces enough decay heat equivalent to one engine from a 747.

  • by cbarcus ( 600114 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @01:17PM (#36696960)
    Yeah, there's a couple, but I think the best design is the Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor (Molten Salt Reactor)- it's super efficient, inherently safe, affordable, scalable, and very flexible. It's potentially so cost-efficient that we could synthesize carbon-neutral fuels for all of our transportation needs, and definitely for less than $2/gal (and longer term, significantly less than that). The high operating temperatures mean that water cooling would not be required, so it safeguards our shorelines, rivers, and aquifers. This isn't a theoretical design, as it has already been shown to be feasible by a prototype built in the 60s (the program was shut down in the 70s because it competed with the uranium/plutonium fuel cycle, and it didn't easily produce plutonium for weapons). Really, this is amazing technology for which I believe the "Green Nuclear" label is very appropriate, and the anti-nuclear movement ought to take a very close look at this.

    In fact, "farming" energy through renewables is a terrible choice by comparison, and will not be able to generate the cheap energy we need in order to sequester the CO2 that threatens Civilization and end the water shortage (via desalination). China already announced this year that they are pursuing this technology (something the US pioneered the development of), so nearly everyone else in the developed world is lagging in the Thorium Race. I guess after another decade or so of suffering, we'll just go further in debt as we try to buy Chinese-made LFTRs.

    This could be our greatest moment, commercializing perhaps the greatest machine ever conceived, ending our economic problems, revitalizing our manufacturing base, ending poverty- so much is possible with cheap energy. Are we instead going to go the way of the Amish, shunning such potential out of fear and ignorance?
  • Re:So when are... (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheEyes ( 1686556 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @02:46PM (#36698158)

    Every nuclear accident has its own beauty. The next will be as unexpected as the tsunami.

    As opposed to deaths related to coal power, which are ugly, expensive, frequent, and utterly predictable.

The human mind ordinarily operates at only ten percent of its capacity -- the rest is overhead for the operating system.