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View Diary: New German Data Shows No End in Sight for Coal (230 comments)

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  •  Actually... (16+ / 0-)

    ... the movement to phase out nuclear power started post-Chernobyl.

    261.A wealthy man can afford anything except a conscience. -Ferengi Rules of Acquisition

    by MaikeH on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:11:37 AM PST

    •  Right as I understand it (13+ / 0-)

      following Chernobyl Germany made a decision to phase out reliance on nuclear power plants as they aged out of the system.

      Later Merkel decided screw that let's keep all our nukes going and re-licensed them instead of removing them from the grid as their licenses came up for renewal.

      Then Fukishima happened and Merkel freaked out and ordered all the nuke plants shutdown.

      The result being that instead of an orderly process that allowed for replacement capacity to come online as old nuclear capacity phased a little at a time you now have Germany scrambling to replace nukes all at the same time.

      In other words Merkel screwed up a good plan and screwed it up badly.

      "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

      by Andrew C White on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 12:02:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agree (6+ / 0-)

        with you that the Merkel approach was not the best one.

        Probably the best discussion of this that I have seen in english is Dave Roberts: Why Germany is phasing out nuclear power.  It makes very interesting reading.  In essence, point is that Energiewende requires move to intermittent power with smart grid management -- massive amounts of baseload doesn't fit in with this.

        And, -- break -- diary doesn't deal with coal in the German electrical system very well.  Check that same Roberts piece for a start. There are lots of legal/other complexities at play here.

        Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

        by A Siegel on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 07:48:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Indeed, as I point out later... (6+ / 0-)

          and as was pointed out in the diarist's links which they horribly distorted, the new coal plants are to replace old, inefficient, dirty baseload coal plants with new, efficient peaking plants.  The new plants have nearly double the efficiency of the old ones that will be going offline, and when run as peaking plants (as solar and wind takes up and increasing share of the grid), they will spend less and less of their time running.  These are plants designed to ramp up and down in a mere 15 minutes to fill in any generation gaps.

          Yes, non-coal peakers would be better.  But presenting it as "Germany planning to become more and more reliant on coal because of anti-nuclear hysteria" isn't even remotely accurate.

          •  The referenced article (0+ / 0-)

            didn't provide adequate information to conclude the 10,000 new megawatts of coal proposed for Germany is highly efficient, or can come on-line in 15 minutes  and thus serve as peaking plants.  There's no indication those 10 new coal fired power plants will even have CO2 recovery.

            The article also admits the new coal is getting built to replace nukes.

            The article's graphs also theorized that renewables, at peak, can supply 100% of Germany's energy needs, if only for a short time.

            I guess this means a zillion rooftop solar units, and a s--t pot of wind, and pumped storage that isn't built yet, to plug the holes in the energy supplies.

            Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

            by 6412093 on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 12:32:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's right there in the Bloomberg article. (1+ / 0-)
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              They're based on the same design as the one that just came online, which they go into the details of.  

              The "zillion rooftop solar units" thing is the same "proof-through-i-can't-picture-it" argument that nuclear-only nuts generally claim.  Sorry, but the plausibility is encapsulated in the costs.  Yeah, it's a huge cost and scale.  But so is any form of power to supply tens of millions of people dozens of kilowatt hours per day.

          •  Exactly. I would give this 100 recs if I could. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Lawrence, Rei, splashy

            That's the type of thing I really,really dislike here sometimes: A person reads ONE article, picks out the part he or she likes and posts it here as a conclusion that is drawn from  what is essentially a small corner of a picture that is a lot bigger. Very few bother to read the source, and just say "oh, yeah, thanks for this."
            I live in Germany, and knew that the diary was not giving an accurate picture, as Lawrence and others pointed out farther down the thread, and now you. I was too busy to respond yesterday, so thank you for doing it better than I could have. The Germans are nothing if not well-organized, and think things through from A to Z - NOTHING is left to chance. The mentality is completely different from the American way, and if you haven't lived here, or spent a number of years in a German environment, there is no way you can draw a definitive conclusion from ONE or even 10 articles about Germany energy policy, or how it fits into the German culture, let alone about how it all fits in the context of the EU. Amazing! The nonsense one can come up with based on ONE article in the context of a complex, highly-industrialized country that prides itself on efficiency (and rightly so) and an even more complex BIG group of countries defies belief. And a couple of commenters here always spout the same stuff over and over again, without an inkling of what they are talking about from a European perspective. Since you live in Iceland now, I know you know exactly what I'm saying.

            „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

            by translatorpro on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 01:38:33 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Oh jeeze. (1+ / 0-)
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          Anne Elk

          Let's make something very clear.   You don't turn on a dangerous fossil fuel plant without killing people.

          The death toll from air pollution, as I never tire of telling people is 3.3 million people per year, 9000 per day, 377 per hour, between six and seven every minute one about every 9 to 10 seconds.

          The German fear and ignorance festival is nothing more than a promise to kill people today and immediately with a 100% probability based on the idea that central Germany might be swept by a tsunami.

          In fact, the tsunami that struck Japan hasn't killed as many people as the next 10 minutes of dangerous fossil fuel waste dumping will kill - again with a 100% probability - and nothing like the 20,000 people that were killed by things that had nothing to do with nuclear energy, nor, in fact, the number of people killed by German lettuce.

          Now we have a scientifically illiterate anti-nuke handing out the same horseshit - on Grist no less, which serves as a sort of news organ for the ignorant - including yet another soothsaying prediction that we may add to the last 60 years of soothsaying predictions, a period in which as many 180 million people may have died from air pollution.

          Do you ever look in the historical literature to compare predictions with reality, like say Amory Lovins 1976 predictions or do you simply applaud the latest soothsaying without checking the history of previous soothsaying?

          This fellow at Energy Tribune did.   I quote:

          The facts plainly show that Lovins has been consistently wrong about the ability of renewables to take large amounts of market-share from fossil fuels. He’s been proven wrong about the long-term ability of efficiency to reduce overall energy consumption. And yet, despite being so wrong for so long, he keeps getting awards and prizes by the forklift-load. And the fact that the Lovins love-fest continues unabated causes no small bit of antipathy among some long-time energy watchers. One of them is Vaclav Smil, the polymath and distinguished professor of geography at the University of Manitoba who has written numerous books on energy. “Inexplicably,” Smil wrote recently, Lovins “retains his guru aura no matter how wrong he is.”

           Smil and others point out that Lovins has been wrong on numerous fronts. Four of Lovins’s claims are worth investigation.

           1. Renewables will take huge swaths of the overall energy market. (1976)
          2. Electricity consumption will fall. (1984)
          3. Cellulosic ethanol will solve our oil import needs. (repeatedly)
          4. Efficiency will lower consumption. (repeatedly)

          Let's, um, see.   Since 1976, um, 37 years have passed.

          At a conservative estimation, 3 million a year, that's, um, how many air pollution deaths while we waited for the grand anti-nuke renewable energy nirvana?  Would that be, um, 110 million deaths, give or take 10 million?

          Am I right about that or does Grist magazine have something uplifting to contradict me?

          If you're reading Grist to understand energy, you simply don't understand energy.

          Have a nice evening.

          •  Sigh ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            1.  My comment started "Agree (4+ / 0-)
            with you that the Merkel approach was not the best one."  E.g., I was not / am not a fan of the accelerated retirements of the German nuclear power plants.

            2.  Take a look at the Grist piece. Despite your attacks, which seem based on not having read that specific one, it is an interesting discussion as to the German thinking / approach.  

            Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

            by A Siegel on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 09:29:54 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  you are forgetting a thing (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              6412093, translatorpro, Lawrence, splashy

              about nuclear.

              The risk.

              Merkel isn't some dumbo lawyer politician who eats up what her industry sponsored expert councils tell her. She's got a PhD in Physics and really understands the physics involved there.

              But what she (and the rest of the German public) have learned from Fukushima is that the unsolved and possibly unsolveable part of nuclear energy isn't a physical problem - it's an engineering and an operational problem.

              And nothing could drive home this Message more clearly than the fact that Fukushima happened in Japan.

              As a nation, and with all its shortcomings, Germany prides itself as a place where engineering and operational excellence is both valued and achieved.   And among other places, Japan is one of the few places respected - even admired -  for both striving for and acchieving the same thing; possibly even more successfully than Germany (and certainly more so than the United States).

              So when Chernobyl blew up, the prevailing sentiment in Germany was "oh well, those sloppy and ineffective Russians".  And the general consensus was that Germany could oiperate nuclear plants safely. But when Fukushima happened, a new consensus was forming: "if that can happen in Japan, it can happen here, too.  If Japanese society isn't able to create and maintain a long term safe nuclear operation (and it wasn't), we have absolutely no reason to believe that we can.  Reactors could melt here, too."

              If you combine that with the fact that Germany, (again, like Japan) is one of the most densely populated territorial states in the world (if you discount the pure city states), the risk is enormeous.

              So Merkel's decision for the changed energy policy was entirely rational, and is supported by a huge majority of her constituents.

              I think most Germans understand, that, from a purely adminstrative energy politics point of view, it isn't the most optimal situation.  But other policy objectives rightly prevail here, and the energy industry will just have to deal with it.

              "Und wer nicht tanzen will am Schluss - weiß noch nicht dass er tanzen muss", Rammstein, "Amerika"

              by cris0000 on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 12:23:27 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yeh (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                translatorpro, Lawrence, cris0000

                every time I get wound up with pro-nuke energy, I keep remembering the newsreel of all those supposedly sacrosanct containment buildings at the Japan nuke, blowing up one after another, from hydrogen explosions.

                I sure hate it when projects I support keep blowing up.

                Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

                by 6412093 on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 12:35:26 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The buildings that blew up were not containment (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  structures. Although they're sometimes described as the "fourth layer of defense", they're really engineered to keep weather out, not radioactives in. That's the job of the reactor vessel, the containment vessel surrounding the reactor, and the heat exchangers.

                  However, the incredible clusterfck that began with putting backup generators exactly where a tsunami would flood them demonstrates that the systems engineering necessary to build safe (and commercially-viable) nuke plants is even beyond the grasp of the nation that first championed "Total Quality Management".

                  Have you noticed?
                  Politicians who promise LESS government
                  only deliver BAD government.

                  by jjohnjj on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 11:52:02 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  That would be bad thinking on the part (0+ / 0-)

                of the Germans then. The oversight of the Fukushima plant was plagued by corruption and the unfortunate hierarchy system in Japan. Those things don't really apply in Germany. The problem in Fukushima was based, so I understand, on poor planning for generator placement, probably to save money, and a much bigger tsunami than anyone in Japan predicted. But Germany is not in a seismically active zone. So I don't see how any responsible German planner could conclude that, if it happened in Japan, it could happen in Germany. Merkel made the decision she did because it was good for her politically not because it made scientific sense.

                For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

                by Anne Elk on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 01:42:36 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  None of that matters if 90 percent of the (0+ / 0-)

                  population prefers renewable energy over nuclear energy. We'll see if it was "bad thinking" or not in about 10 or 20 years, doubtful it will play out earlier than that. The critical year will be 2024, by which time the rest of the nuclear power plants will have been phased out

                  „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

                  by translatorpro on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 01:55:38 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  That wasn't the argument (0+ / 0-)

                    I was commenting on. The point I was referring to was the assertion that Merkel the Engineer made the decision she did on the basis of sound logic, when she didn't. As you just pointed out, she did so because the voters like it a lot and the tsunami on the other side of the earth scared them. Merkel is good at exploiting public fear, like a lot of uninspiring politicians. Glad to see you agree with me.

                    The bottom line is that Germany is burning more coal. As long as that's the case, it doesn't really matter what else they do.

                    For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

                    by Anne Elk on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 02:10:10 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  My point is you are passing judgement based (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      on the wrong assumptions. And Merkel did not make the decision alone - remember, the CDU is the CONSERVATIVE party in coalition with first the SPD, and then later the FDP. The tsunami per se did not "scare them", the thinking is much more complicated than that. You don't appear to understand that the German mentality cannot be compared to the American one, and that one cannot use an American yardstick to judge another culture - it doesn't work and will always be skewed. That's the nature of cultural differences, and one reason there are wars. Your set of expectations and approach to getting something done are different from theirs. In addition, you are simplifying facts and ignoring others, which is quite an American thing, not a German one. The topic is much more complex than you are able to fathom, it appears.
                      In a nutshell: The diarist used ONE year of statistics, and Rei and Lawrence and a few others point out that the diarist left out a lot of other facts from the SAME link the diarist posted, which would be salient to his point and change the picture, something like taking one piece of a 1000-piece puzzle and drawing conclusions about the end product without knowing what the finished puzzle looks like.

                      This -->

                      „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

                      by translatorpro on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 02:51:27 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  OK. I give up! (0+ / 0-)

                        I clearly know nothing about German politics!

                        For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

                        by Anne Elk on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 05:40:21 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                •  You think there's no corruption in the Big Energy (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  translatorpro, splashy

                  Business in Germany?  Seriously??!  German nuke plants have been plagued by problems, just as they have been in other countries.  Furthermore, with each year of age a nuke plant becomes riskier.  Metals corrode, concrete gets brittle, rubber becomes porous, instruments become outdated with age.

                  Germany may not be in a normally seismically active zone, but its nuclear plants are just as vulnerable to freak accidents as others around the world.  An A380 crashing into a nuke plant would be one such freak event, and there are others.

                  Furthermore, Germany is a geographically small country and has not found a safe place for permanently storing nuclear waste.... so why on earth would they want to continue creating highly radioactive nuclear waste when they already have no place to store it?

                  "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

                  by Lawrence on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 03:33:00 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Exactly, and one thing they were deeply concerned (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Lawrence, splashy

                    about was potential terrorist attacks on nuclear plants, which the German government felt they could never be able to prevent with 100% certainty, even 99.9999% wouldn't be worth the risk to them. Odd, the pro-nuclear contingent never mentions that scenario...

                    „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

                    by translatorpro on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 03:49:54 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  And in any case, you didn't read my comment (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  correctly. The pro-nuclear folks claim the German population was afraid of a tsunam/earthquake in Japan possibly occuring in Germany, which is absurd, of course. They only say that to mock and belittle them. And "no responsible planner" (your words) ever thought any such thing. Where on earth did you get such a notion? Do the producers of BMW, Mercedes and many fine precision instruments and products strike you as being irrational cry-babies? I point out below that apart from a possible freak (natural) accident, the bigger problem is a potential terrorist attack, which is a very real issue there.

                  „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

                  by translatorpro on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 04:46:34 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Bravo. Someone who gets it - a real rarity here. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Thank you, thank you, thank you. Not only a huge majority of the German population wanted out, it was 90 PERCENT, yeah, that's right - 90 percent.

                Die Zustimmung zum Atomausstieg ist einer Umfrage zufolge noch weiter gestiegen. Über 90 Prozent aller Deutschen sind für eine Stilllegung aller Reaktoren. Atomkraftgegner sehen ihre langjährige Argumentation bestätigt – und fordern noch umfassendere und ambitioniertere Massnahmen sowie ein Ende von Angst-Szenarien.

                Laut der Umfrage von TNS Emnid ausgerechnet im Auftrag des Energiekonzerns Vattenfall sind 91 Prozent aller Deutschen für einen Atomausstieg, 36 Prozent allerdings nur unter dem Vorbehalt, dass Strom bezahlbar bleibt, 55 Prozent aber für einen “vorbehaltlosen Ausstieg”. Im April 2011 – kurz nach dem Reaktorunfall von Fukushima – waren es laut TNS Emnid insgesamt 89 Prozent und 51 Prozent mit dem Vorbehalt, 38 Prozent der Deutschen mit der Forderung nach einem “vorbehaltlosen Atomausstieg”.


                So you think the German government, or ANY damn government, is going to ignore what 90% of its population wants? Oh, and that makes 90% of the German people hysterical fraidy-cats, according to the pro-nuke guys. Sheesh.

                „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

                by translatorpro on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 01:48:09 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Don't bother. He's been writing this same stuff (0+ / 0-)

              for years. Ignore.

              „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

              by translatorpro on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 01:39:23 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

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