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Nuclear isn’t the only energy phase-out happening in Germany

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Energy Transition

You may have heard that Paris is suffering from so much air pollution that the city recently topped the world charts, even beating out Chinese cities. But did you know that the surge in German coal power during its nuclear phaseout is the reason? That, at least, is what Michael McDonald of OilPrice.com (republished at Time.com) would have us believe. But there are a few problems with this story.

Ein Windrad und eine Photovoltaikanlage stehen am 08.09.2011 bei Brodersby, nahe Olpenitz in Schleswig-Holstein. Die ÷kobranche atmet auf. Die von allen Verbrauchern zu zahlende Umlage steigt nur minimal. Bundeskanzlerin Merkel hatte angek¸ndigt, die Umlage solle im Rahmen bleiben und so ist es nun gekommen - aber schon nâ°chstes Jahr kËnnte es viel teurer werden. (zu dpa ´Der Preis des ÷kostrom-Boomsª vom 12.10.2011) Foto: Christian Charisius dpa/lno +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

First, though McDonald says “the renewed German penchant for coal power” may be behind the air pollution in France, only Paris is suffering from smog. Strasbourg, a French city directly on the German border, has no such problems, nor does the large part of France between Paris and Germany. In fact, no other part of Europe is complaining of smog. Miraculously, the smoke from German coal power apparently travels through a funnel directly to Parisians – even when the wind is blowing from France to Germany.

Second, there has been no surge in coal power during the nuclear phase-out. In fact, total coal power production (both lignite and hard coal) fell by six percent last year alone. If German coal power is polluting Parisian air, the problem should be getting smaller.

german-power-mix-over-time

Finally, the journalist also believes that “numerous new [coal] plants are scheduled to come online in the next few years.” Tellingly, he does not provide a specific number or a link to a source – yet, the number is knowable.

German utility lobby group BDEW regularly updates its “power plant list” (PDF in German). The version from April 13 (which Reuters published in English on the same day) has a total of 74 projects, six of which would consume coal:

 

pipeline-german-coal-power-plants

The two plants to be completed this year already started producing electricity this year and will therefore not “come online in the next few years.” Neither was a reaction to the nuclear phaseout of 2011; the Moorburg plant was first proposed in 2004, Mannheim in 2007.

Two weeks after the BDEW updated the list above, Mibrag announced that it was stepping away (report in German) from the Profen project entirely. A fourth project, Hamm D, should already be online, but various acids entered the boiler, and the plant has been delayed indefinitely. The latest word (report in German) is that the plant “may never generate electricity” because German utilities began building too many plants 10 years ago.

The fifth plant, RWE’s BoAplus Niederaussem, is especially interesting in this respect. Utility RWE believes the 1.1 gigawatt plant, which was originally to be completed by 2020, might be needed to replace around seven gigawatts from a variety of sources that will be shut down in the area by 2025 (none of which are nuclear). If built, it will be the first to have been planned completely after the Fukushima accident and Germany’s nuclear phase-out; the plant was first proposed in October 2011. It has not yet officially been canceled, though the local press says “it is extremely unlikely that the plant will ever be built” (report in German). Once again, money is the problem. Under current wholesale prices at less than three cents, new coal plants just aren’t profitable.

Which brings us to the last plant on the list: Dow Chemicals plans to set up a cogeneration plant at its facilities outside Hamburg. Though it will partly run on hard coal, the plant will produce more process heat than electricity. It is being built to provide in-house electricity and heat not as a reaction to the nuclear phaseout.

We are left with no coal plants in the pipeline as a reaction to Fukushima accident and Germany’s nuclear phase-out. Nor has there been a boom in new coal plants and coal electricity generation in Germany since the Fukushima accident. All of this information is publicly available, but Michael McDonald of OilPrice.com obviously didn’t bother to do proper research.

The practice is what I call “drive-by journalism” – a journalist criticizing a subject he is unfamiliar with. He claims that nuclear is to be “fully phased out by 2021” (the date is December 2022), that natural gas is “cheaper per unit of power” than coal (it isn’t in Germany), and that German politicians “are starting to admit” that “coal is the only realistic option” to nuclear (that particular politician quoted here has never said anything else in the past decade).

The sad thing for me not only as a journalist, but also as a reader, is that such an article not only gets through the editorial process at OilPrice.com, but then also gets picked up by Time.com without any further review.

Craig Morris (@PPchef) is the lead author of German Energy Transition. He directs Petite Planète and writes every workday for Renewables International.

This article was originally published on German Energy Transition

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  • J. M. Korhonen

    For someone criticizing others of sloppy journalism, you should check more carefully what you are insinuating yourself. True, there have been almost no new coal power projects in the pipeline since Fukushima – but you studiously ignore that “Energiewende” only REVERTED to earlier timetable for nuclear closures in 2022. That timetable was set in the early 2000s and for a brief time extended by Merkel in 2010, who argued it made climate progress difficult while endangering energy security. After Fukushima, the original timetable was reinstated – it was not a novel development!

    That early 2000s decision DID lead to the permits for new coal power that are now coming online; it his HIGHLY misleading to imply that nuclear phaseout by 2022 did not lead to increase in coal power, when it is clear to anyone who has actually studied the history of “Energiewende” that one of the key reasons why those coal power plant permits were given in the first place was – nuclear phaseout by 2022. Of course, by strict interpretation you are correct, but you are frankly not practicing much better journalism than what you are criticizing (even though you do make many valid points).

    As of now, it seems very probable that Merkel was right. For Germany to reach its 2020 emission targets, unprecedented annual emission reductions would be required. I for one will be following with interest what kinds of arguments emanate from anti-nuclear apologists if and probably when that reality sinks in to broader audience.

    • onesecond

      In part you are right, there were coal plants planned because of the nuclear phaseout planned in 2001 but the truth is, due to the success of the buildout of renewable energy only very few were actually build. Those are more efficient and lead to the closure of older coal plants which are no longer needed so in fact no increase of pollution is due to the nuclear phaseout as the charts above clearly show!
      Secondly Greenpeace published a study some weeks ago that regardless of the nuclear phaseout 36 (!) coal plants with combined 15 GW could be shut down right now (!) without endangering the very high German electricity supply security and only raising wholesale power prices by 0,6 cent (!), which really wouldn’t be a problem because German wholesale power prices are half of France’s wholesale power prices (around 2,5 cent compared to 5 cent). Previous to that study I already thought so myself because Germany has a conventional power fleet installed way over 100 GW and peak demand is only around 75 GW, so phasing out nuclear and shutting down further coal plants should be really no problem.
      The only problem is lacking political will from the conservative Merkel government and her coalitian partner the SPD, which is historically entangled with the coal power sector due to the German “Wirtschaftswunder” in the sixties, when the “Kohlekumpel”, workers in the German coal mines, were one of their core constituencies. So don’t blame the political failure of our current Government to reach the 40% CO2 reduction target somehow on problems caused by the nuclear phaseout! That is totally incorrect! I hate it when conservatives government screw up the tranistion to clean energy as much as they can and then get credit for being right on missing targets! The German energy transition caused by the GREEN party in 2001 when they were in power is a huge success and lead to a energy transition happening all over the world right now! If something is going to save mankind’s ass than it is their piece of legislation, the EEG, and you should be on your knees thanking them instead of spreading false pro nuclear propaganda!

      • J. M. Korhonen

        Okay, so we should be very happy that instead of spanking the kids as much as planned, the parent increased spanking only somewhat. Great!

        The Greenpeace study you mentioned treats electricity exports and imports somewhat cursorily, and I really doubt whether their plan would actually be feasible in the pan-European electricity market.

        I have huge issues with any climate mitigation plans that effectively require the Greens and/or liberals to be the dominant parties in every country across the world for the next 30 years or so. Not because I don’t like them (I vote leftist parties) but because if that’s the requirement, then we’re already screwed.

        • onesecond

          Once again, the graphs clearly show that CO2 output fell. Without the nuclear phaseout that started the energy transition to renewables, coal plants wouldn’t have come under any stress at all right now, because a nuclear buildout in Germany at this rate really wouldn’t have been feasible. But right now the coal plants are hardly profitable anymore because of low market prices because of renewables and we have a surplus of electricity. This is the worst situation for coal plants in Germany ever and historically it wouldn’t have happened without the nuclear phaseout because nuclear baseload plants are totally incompatible with renewables. Right now it is important to sustain the renewable buildout to put the coal plants under more stress even after the nuclear plants have been switched of. Not phasing out the nuclear plants on the other hand would mean that we would have to stop the renewable buildout and that the coal plants wouldn’t get more stress from renewables.
          The political reality is that political regulation that would switch off the coal plants first is not an option, because as I wrote in my other comment, we could already switch off 36 coal plants today even with the nuclear phaseout and it is sadly not happening, so don’t blame the phaseout. Blame the SPD and CDU and maybe if we would all do that instead of focussing on nuclear things, they would feel enough pressure to switch them off!

          • J. M. Korhonen

            The assumption you seem to be making is that renewables can be increased all the way to (almost) 100% energy consumption with current technical and economic framework. If that proves to be case, great; I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

            But if you are wrong and cheap energy storage & supergrid options fail to materialize soonish, then what happens is that production-correlated renewables will cannibalize their own profitability and make market-driven renewable energy installations impossible, and we will be left with great many coal plants that are necessary for stable electricity system yet do not make enough money to cover their costs. What would happen next are subsidies to coal plants, á la already decided-upon subsidies to gas plants, and a floor below which emission reductions are extremely hard to achieve.

            I’m not saying that keeping nuclear would have been a silver bullet against this eventuality; but I do believe that when one is setting out on a marathon, it is folly to shoot oneself in the foot. There is possibility that you are right in that increased RE will make large generators uneconomical; but surely it would have been better to drive out the coal first, then worry about what to do with the nukes? Besides, in this scenario, renewables themselves WILL hit a roof where adding more renewables simply will not be a viable option because their production, intercorrelated as it is with other similar RE generators, will happen during times of oversupply and therefore their revenues will not cover their costs. For solar PV as an example, that point will be reached far before 10% of Germany’s annual energy demand is supplied from that source.

            Of course, changing priorities may be political impossibility. So was the abolition of slavery in late 1700s, to mention just one case where political impossibilities proved surprisingly possible, given enough courageous people willing to say that the emperor was lacking in clothes.

          • onesecond

            This is totally ridiculous. 100 % renewable energy supply has been proven time and again in pilot projects and 100% electricity supply is already a reality on islands. The cost curve of mass production items is well documented and applies not only to pv but also to battery storage. Furthermore there has never been a free market for electricity, nuclear and coal always have been heavily subsidized. To argue with market mechanisms for renewables is nonsensical because of course you have to create a market where renewables are favoured, just as it has been done before for coal and nuclear. You could even take the FIT mechanisms to 100%, then the price for electricity would on many times become zero and the surcharge would climb to 20 cent and you still wouldn’t pay more then right now while storage would be very profitable for the other times because you can fill it with no cost on high supply times!
            Nuclear on the other hand has already turned out to be super expensive for society with a ton of problems. While I agree that it would have been much better for the global ecosystem to phase out coal first, it is for the people to decide if they want to live next to a potential bomb or not! Comparing phasing out nuclear first and then coal to slavery is just totally crazy. Plain crazy. There will be no civil war with millions of casualties in Germany about that and I am quite happy about that!

          • J. M. Korhonen

            I suggest you take a look at this piece, for example:

            http://theenergycollective.com/jessejenkins/2233311/look-wind-and-solar-part-2-there-upper-limit-intermittent-renewables

            Pray tell: where exactly are close to 100% renewable energy or electricity systems deployed in the context of industrialized society? I can think of mainly about Norway, which is blessed with inordinate amount of hydropower potential, and Iceland, where there are both mountains and strong volcanic activity. Sadly, mountains and volcanoes are difficult to erect elsewhere!

            At small enough scale, many energy generation solutions are of course feasible. The problem is how to power an industrialized civilization. There are a variety of studies of course that claim to “prove” it is possible; I for one have a bit less faith in such studies than you seem to have. And I think I have some reason: are you aware, for example, that IPCC’s SRREN report – the special on renewable energy potential – concluded that not one of the 164 energy scenarios considered could deliver even the amount of energy we use today, in 2050? Or are you aware of other problems in these high renewables reports, such as how they ignore the rebound effect?

            I wrote a book about them, so that’s why I do know something of the topic.

            The note about slavery did not mean to imply any sort of civil war. It only meant to be an example of how commonly accepted truths are malleable – we don’t (at least, hopefully not often!) see different-colored people as being of inherently without value any longer.

          • onesecond

            Ok, so we have Norway, Iceland, Costa Rica, Tazmania, El Hierro at 100% and then New Zealand, that has 90% renewable electricity. Furthermore there are a lot of areas in Germany were 100% renewable electricity are already achieved. The northern parts plan with 300% renwable electrity in 2030 right now because they want to export. Add to that all the pilot projects and feasibility studies.

            Ok, and then you come along with an overhyped merit-order effect and assume that noone has ever heard or thought of that? Believe me there is a lot of discussion going on in Germany right now on how to design the future energy market. There are a lot of feasible market designs the only question is which one is the best. The problem is that neoliberals always assume somehow a god-given free market and dismiss regulation despite the fact that a “true” free market would deliver horrible results (child labour, no safety standars, environmental pollution etc.) because they conveniently forget about the true costs of their actions because society has to pay for them.

            And finally the rebound effect. That is a thing, but it has limits. For example, while you may get more lights like LED when you can operate them for lower costs, there is a limit where you simply won’t want any more LED lights because it is already damn bright. And secondly energy efficieny always gets underestimated. By switching to electric cars we could at least 50% of primary energy consumption in transport for example. Just plain physics tells us that todays renewable energy technology could access all the energy we could possibly want.

            http://cleantechnica.com/2015/05/14/todays-solar-panels-can-power-the-world-mit-study-finds/

          • J. M. Korhonen

            Just as I said: very high percentage of renewables is feasible in small enough scale, with abundant natural resources (mostly hydropower), or in societies where there is not that much industrial activity. Also, when the surrounding electricity grid can be used to absorb excess production or pipe in electricity when needed, as in Northern Germany. Things become more problematic when, say, mountains are not much in abundance, or when the grid becomes saturated with renewables. As they say in the financing industry, past performance is no guarantee of future success.

            I’m sure there are great many people in Germany who are aware of merit order effects and other problems with high RE penetration. I strongly suspect that’s the reason why even Germany’s official targets – achieving 80% electricity from low-carbon sources by 2050 – are so pitiful and so far away. The same outcome was achieved in multiple countries by 1990 – sixty years earlier! – entirely by accident, as a byproduct of completely different energy policies, and with no need to curb overall energy use.

            I’m the guy who advocates tackling the climate change with everything we have; I think it’s up to those who say “we don’t need this or that” to prove me wrong.

          • onesecond

            I can only repeat, the technological problems are solved, RE and storage will only get cheaper and the right market design can be choosen.
            My problem with “tackling climate change with everything we have” as you call it, is, that every cent that you spend on nuclear reactors would be better spent on renewable energy because their kWh is much cheaper and they are faster to deploy. According to that, nuclear is only a distraction that slows down the transition to a zero carbon energy system. So spending anything on nuclear is inefficient and detrimental.

          • J. M. Korhonen

            I’ve become aware that that is your belief. I’m personally a little bit more skeptical about these sorts of claims, and will wait for more concrete proof until I change my opinion. I would also like to see a broader scientific consensus on the topic: now, for example, the IPCC is fairly clear in advocating for every low-carbon option, including nuclear power. The SRREN report may be one major reason why.

            We have a history of technological claims that did not pan out the way their supporters hoped and believed. As a nuclear critic, I’m sure you’re aware of several. I find it very odd that now, apparently, we’ve supposed to have hit a set of energy generation technologies that do not have similar risks of unexpected setbacks and problems that prevent them from achieving complete dominance. Of course it is possible, and I hope I’m wrong.

            On a closing note, I would like you to study the claims of nuclear energy supporters from the 1950s to 1970s. I have here a report that claims it’s inevitable that almost all the energy world is using in 2000 will come from nuclear power. The naysayers were dismissed in very much the same fashion as you are now dismissing me.

            Well, in 40 years we’ll be wiser. I do think it’s bit early to be certain that we don’t need nuclear, but there is always the possibility that I’m wrong.

          • onesecond

            I think the difference between nuclear and renewables in their early stages was that the major drawbacks of nuclear were known while even the most vocal opponents conceded that there are no major drawbacks of renewables, they rather insisted that renewables were not up for the job. People just assumed, that the drawbacks of nuclear power could be overcome one day while its potential to power the world was undisputed. Nowadays we are not even sure if the current generation of nuclear power plants couldn’t even power the world for more than a couple of decades because of the lack of enough uranium resources and we still don’t know what to with the waste or how to prevent an accident. And even after more than sixty years of research it is totally expensive.
            Looking at renewables on the other hand it just takes basic physics to know that they are up for the job and given their price, the absence of major drawbacks, the advances in IT and storage, and their scalability I feel very confident in my assessement of their success. And I still can’t see any logical error with every cent spent on nuclear would be better spent on renewables.
            Well, as you said, time will tell.

          • onesecond

            So you relied on the world wide recession year of 2009 to plot your little graph? Give me a break. As usual out of context cherry picking to suit your agenda.

          • So you relied on the world wide recession year of 2009 to plot your little graph? Give me a break. As usual out of context cherry picking to suit your agenda.

            Below is the best fit line if you throw out 2009 (recession year) and 2014 (warmest winter since 1881).

            You can lead a horse to water …

          • onesecond

            Rofl. Now you are down to only four data points and rely on one heavy winter. You are totally ridiculous. 😀

          • The above chart represents ~ 17% of all data points. The chart that included 2009 and 2014 represents 25% of all data points. I list all three charts showing how German CO2 reduction has stalled below to give readers a sense of perspective:

            https://a.disquscdn.com/uploads/mediaembed/images/2107/6388/original.jpg?w=800&h&w=600&h=239

            https://a.disquscdn.com/uploads/mediaembed/images/2177/490/original.jpg?w=600&h

            https://a.disquscdn.com/uploads/mediaembed/images/2207/9701/original.jpg?w=600&h

          • onesecond

            We already are down 27% on CO2 emissions since 1990 while the US have been going 6% up. CO2 emissions are forecasted to fall and we could reduce CO2 emissions much further right now while phasing out nuclear if not for the coal lobby. So you are right, we could do even better, but what exactly is your point anyway?

          • We already are down 27% on CO2 emissions since 1990 …

            Obviously, but that isn’t the point. The point is that emissions reductions have stalled.

            …we could reduce CO2 emissions much further right now while phasing out nuclear if not for the coal lobby.

            Let me translate what you said above. Shutting down coal will impart yet another financial penalty on German citizens. They have hired a lobbyists to protect their income. Germany could decide to further tax other citizens to pay those who will lose income when coal is shut down. You can see how this will further increase energy bills. Bringing some of the idled nuclear back on line would pay for the cost of closing down more coal.

            So you are right, we could do even better, but what exactly is your point anyway?

            Bringing some of the idled nuclear back on line would pay for the cost of closing down more coal.

          • onesecond

            No, you are really completely wrong! We have more than enough dispatchable capacity in Germany, if the regulators just decided and ordered to shut down coal capacity in addition to the nuclear phaseout, German citizens would not have to pay anything extra! They could phase out 15 GW of coal plants like this right now in addition to the nuclear phaseout! In spite of that the German government just decided to pay the coal power plant owners a lot of money to shut down only 2,7 GW of their coal power plants. This is an example for a powerful lobby extorting money out of German citizens thanks to their useful contacts in high places, this has nothing, zero to do with the nuclear phaseout! Maybe after 2025 Germany will have physical limits on closing down further coal plants if grid upgrades and backup options like storage fail to materialize and then you could come back complaining about the nuclear phaseout, but really not now! And even if you had a point due to physical restrictions in ten years I still would tell you that it is up to the German people to decide if they want to live next to a potential bomb or not and that all the technical and economical feasible possiblities to replace all the coal plants with renewable electricity are there! Why are these facts beyond you? I don’t get you.

          • We have more than enough dispatchable capacity in Germany, if the regulators just decided and ordered to shut down coal capacity in addition to the nuclear phaseout, German citizens would not have to pay anything extra! They could phase out 15 GW of coal plants like this right now in addition to the nuclear phaseout!

            I just want to clarify for any readers that you’re not claiming all coal and nuclear could immediately be shut down because Germany has enough dispatchable sources to compensate. You are claiming that just some coal can be shut down because of some dispatchable energy availability. Claiming all nuclear and coal can be immediately shut down would be delusional. See graph below.

            https://s.yimg.com/lo/api/res/1.2/.K5IeEzL5tl7fEc96WPa8A–/YXBwaWQ9eWlzZWFyY2g7Zmk9Zml0O2dlPTAwNjYwMDtncz0wMEEzMDA7aD00MDA7dz02Mzg-/http://www.cleanenergywire.org/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/images/article/2014/12/german-energy-mix-petajoule.png?itok=2YBOE1HV.cf.jpg

            In any case, you missed the point again. I’ll reiterate. The reason the regulators have not shut down more coal is because of the cost it would impart to German citizens. That is why there is a coal lobby. But your argument has another hole in it …they could shut down more nuclear instead of more coal in order to use more dispatchable energy thus circumventing your evil coal lobby. They don’t because of the cost penalty associated with shutting down more nuclear.

            In spite of that the German government just decided to pay the coal power plant owners a lot of money to shut down only 2,7 GW of their coal power plants. This is an example for a powerful lobby extorting money out of German citizens thanks to their useful contacts in high places, this has nothing, zero to do with the nuclear phaseout!

            That paying of German citizens to close more coal is what I described in my previous comment. It represents a transfer of wealth from one group of German citizens to another (those who will feel the direct economic impact of shutting down coal). It’s a cost of implementing renewables at this rate.

            Maybe after 2025 Germany will have physical limits on closing down further coal plants if grid upgrades and backup options like storage fail to materialize and then you could come back complaining about the nuclear phaseout, but really not now!

            I understand that English isn’t your first language but your choice of the word “complaining” to describe my “explaining” of why German emissions have stalled was incorrect.

            And even if you had a point due to physical restrictions in ten years I still would tell you that it is up to the German people to decide if they want to live next to a potential bomb or not …

            Well of course it’s for them to decide. Just as they have decided to keep burning coal. For any readers who may not already know this …it is a physical impossibility for a nuclear power plant to create a nuclear explosion.

            …and that all the technical and economical feasible possibilities to replace all the coal plants with renewable electricity are there!

            “All” coal plants? See graph above. “Possibilities?” The word “possibilities” denotes the concept of probability, meaning that you don’t have a sure thing.

            Why are these facts beyond you? I don’t get you.

            So which is it, a “possibility” or a “fact?” That’s a rhetorical question. You are not supposed to try to answer it. The outcome of this German experiment (hypothesis) is being tested. The degree of success won’t be fully known for decades. The decline in emissions reductions is certainly no secret. It’s a call to arms for German energy planners to look for ways to get emissions going down again.

            It’s interesting to watch what happens to a grid when politicians design it instead of engineers.

          • onesecond

            Wow you are wrong all over again. You are only right with that I never said that all nuclear and coal capacity could be shut down immediately. I said that all nuclear and 15 GW of coal, which is a really big chunk, could be shut down right now.
            Furthermore shutting down this nuclear and coal capacity would increase the wholesale price and in return lowering the EEG-Umlage, so the average German citizen would not pay anything, nada, zero extra for closing down these power plants.
            “it is a physical impossibility for a nuclear power plant to create a nuclear explosion.” Wow, you really are delusional. Of course the inner containment can break down due to material failure, or the cooling pumps can fail or the electricity supply can fail.

            Yeah, I guess you can repeat that point that 100% renewable electricity supply for a nation like Germany has not yet been proven. But really, whats the point? So people shouldn’t do anything for the first time because it is the first time? Really, try to think for yourself about that for a second or a week or whatever time you need.

          • You are only right with that I never said that all nuclear and coal capacity could be shut down immediately.

            Yeah, I know. I wanted to make sure readers understood that.

            I said that all nuclear and 15 GW of coal, which is a really big chunk, could be shut down right now.

            Actually, my parrot friend, you have said that six times now, ostensibly from an old Greenpeace study. Let me put your big chunk into perspective. Assuming that is true (and coming from Greenpeace, I seriously doubt that it is), 15 GW is equal to 15 Westinghouse AP 1000 nuclear reactors, and that would be on top of the 12 GW of nuclear capacity Germany already has. And what exactly Greenpeace would replace it with you failed to say. And this would cost nothing?

            Furthermore shutting down this nuclear and coal capacity would increase the wholesale price and in return lowering the EEG-Umlage, so the average German citizen would not pay anything, nada, zero extra for closing down these power plants.

            …spare me.

            Of course the inner containment can break down due to material failure, or the cooling pumps can fail or the electricity supply can fail.

            No. Containment domes don’t fail. Coolant loss was the cause of the three nuclear incidents in the last half century, two by operator error, one by a tsunami. Two of those three incidents killed no one so stop trying to deceive readers by suggesting that a reactor can become a bomb.

            Yeah, I guess you can repeat that point that 100% renewable electricity supply for a nation like Germany has not yet been proven. But really, whats the point?

            I was simply countering your insistence that it is a sure bet as opposed to an untested hypothesis. Your argument is evolving.

            So people shouldn’t do anything for the first time because it is the first time?

            No, seriously, strawman arguments don’t work in a comment field.

            Really, try to think for yourself about that for a second or a week or whatever time you need.

            …says the parrot.

          • onesecond

            Yeah you are right, it is a shame that I feel the need to repeat facts because they are obviously going nowhere in your head. It’s because you always bring up the same wrong things we already discussed before while ignoring everything I say. So it is true, while ýou are doing that I will just parrot these things one million times over. I know, that is far to charitable on my behalf, but that’s just the good person I am.

            Greenpeace has been spot on in the past with the deployment of renewable energy and sufficient backup capacity being there, leaving the IEA and all national energy agencies in the dust so I am very happy to quote Greenpeace. I feel like I already wrote that too, but I guess I have to adress the things you write.

            Yes the coal and nuclear capacity #Germany could phase out right now is 27 GW combined, you got that correct. What Germany would replace it with? I have written that time and again and again but since you ask again I will repeat myself once more: Nothing. We have that much conventional overcapacity in Germany. Once this overcapacity is gone, which will be not before 2025 you can start to worry about German supply security. Although you will probably call me nationalistic again, I just have to say your time would be much better spend worrying about US electricity supply security because it is sooooooo much worse than in Germany. That is just a fact, sorry if this fact hurts your feelings, nationalistic or whatever.

            Sigh. Nuclear plants can go up for a lot of reasons, some already have gone up. What kind of a deluded person would even question that?

            And seriously why would you call “So people shouldn’t do anything for the first time because it is the first time?” a strawman’s argument? First, it is a question and secondly this questions exposes exactly the problem in your thinking. A thinking which would have never lead to nuclear plants in the first place in a time they wouldn’t have been there already.

            You are just sad, calling strawman’s argument (what is that even supposed to mean in this context?) and parrot because you know you can’t counter facts, the world disagrees and ignores you and you can’t even hang with me discussing these things in your mother tongue.

    • Craig Morris

      JM, there was no timetable to the 2002 nuclear phaseout. Rather, each nuclear plant received an allotment of probable kilowatt-hours it should produce during a 32-year service life. If all of the plants ran on schedule, the last one would have been closed around 2022, but plant owners were free to run them at lower levels, shut them down temporarily, etc. (which they did). And certainly, there was no schedule for particular plants to shut down in a particular year, which we have now.

      You are correct that numerous utilities and politicians in Germany believed coal plants would need to be built to replace nuclear back in 2002. But they underestimated the growth of renewables, and they were wrong:

      http://us.boell.org/2014/06/06/german-coal-conundrum

  • Svasol

    So readers are supposed to believe that it fine in the midst of a CO2 emissions crisis that phasing out the only base load emissions-free source (Nuclear) is responsible because the growth of Coal and Lignite plants is slowing down…. slightly…. maybe. Yet strangely CO2 emissions are…… stabilizing? Go tell a Polar Bear that!

  • Bullfrog

    No mention of residential electricity prices in Germany being 3x higher than the US and Canada.They should frack and get their energy costs under control. And never should have started the phase out of nuclear, if the goal is truly to meet the co2 reductions on a short timetable.

    • onesecond

      The funny thing is, while it is correct that the electricity prices are three times higher than in the US, the average German citizen spends less on electricity per month compared to US citizens.

      http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/why-german-energy-consumers-pay-lower-bills-than-us-consumers-14990

      So we actually pay less while not destroying our environment. The key is energy efficiency like better appliances and higher housing standards. About the nuclear phaseout, please read my other comment in this comment section.

      • …so when you, and the author of this article, chose to quote the low wholesale prices and ignore the high retail prices, were you trying to deceive readers or did you have a good reason to do that?

        • onesecond

          Of course Germans are concerned about their electric bills, that is why they buy the most efficient appliances, which is a good thing. But they are for sure not up in arms because of their electric bill, because on average the bill is not very high. There are polls regularly and the majority always says that it is fine to pay the 6 cent renewable surcharge.
          Yes, I agree, coal power plants suck, please read my other comment in this comment section why still so many of them are online in Germany although we could turn off a lot of them. If you are refering to France as neighbouring country that is affected because you read somewhere that Paris complained about their smog and blamed it on the Germans, then let me tell you that it is obviously their diesel cars that pollute Paris, because at the same time they were complaing the wind was blowing east and we generally don’t have smog problems on Parisian levels in Germany and even the cities between Paris and Germany are fine. Generally speaking you are right and coal plants suck and should be shut down quickly.

      • Bullfrog

        I’d use less electricity too if it cost 3x more. Is that the strategy? Through renewables, make energy so expensive that poor people can’t use it and middle class have to ration it?

        • onesecond

          Lol. Germany has a social security system for the poor that the USA can only dream of and the middle class is doing better than in the USA where the only ones that really prosper are the top 1% (ok I give you that, these do prosper really very well). You should research it, the middle class of the USA is loosing ground while the Canadian or North European ones are doing better.

          • Lol. Germany has a social security system for the poor that the USA can
            only dream of and the middle class is doing better than in the USA where
            the only ones that really prosper are the top 1% …

            …coincidentally, I just watched a documentary about one of the last American pilots who flew the Berlin airlift.

            You missed his point. As a global model, tripling electricity prices to decrease electricity use would have a disproportionate impact on the poorest of the world, not just Germans.

          • Calamity_Jean

            Yes a carbon tax and dividend scheme would benefit the poor because in the lower income brackets the dividend would be more than the tax.

            “…tripling electricity prices to decrease electricity use would have a disproportionate impact on the poorest of the world…. “

          • True …but like unicorns, there is no such thing as a carbon tax and dividend scheme, so it’s a bit of moot point.

          • Calamity_Jean

            Unlike unicorns, a tax and dividend plan could be created anytime.

          • …sounds good to me. What’s your plan to get that done?

          • Calamity_Jean

            Other than nagging my Senators & Congressman and urging others to do the same, I don’t have one.

          • onesecond

            What has the American pilot that once flew the Berlin airlift to do with anything? Dwelling on the past while neglecting the present or the future seems unwise. On a sidenote, I am the first to admit that USA really was number one in a lot of things and especially the economy and the well being of the middle class before Reagan.
            No, you missed the point. Germany as a rich country took it on it to pay for the development of cheap renewable electricity. They paid for that and still do and everyone should be thankful for that. Due to that today decentralized renewable electricity can supply the poor e. g. in Africa much cheaper than convential coal plants that require a humongous buildout of grid infrastructure and coal supply infrastructure that poor countries simply can’t finance and afford. Even India has a huge problem with coal supply despite its own resources due to a lack of infrastructure.

          • What has the American pilot that once flew the Berlin airlift to do with anything?

            It was a hint to an ingrate who should know better than to stroke his nationalism.

            I am the first to admit that the USA really were number one in a lot of things …

            ….says the German in bad English as he types away on his PC using a Windows operating system.

            No, you missed the point. Germany as a rich country took it on it to pay for the development of cheap renewable electricity. They paid for that and still do and everyone should be thankful for that.

            Germany is testing a hypothesis. How much renewable energy they will manage to generate and at what cost has yet to be seen. To date, the experiment has confirmed high costs and the chart below suggests that Germany may have maxed out emissions reductions. And as I said before, you can’t use the German model globally if it requires “…a rich country” to pull it off.

            ….decentralized renewable electricity can supply the poor e. g. in Africa much cheaper than convential coal plants…

            That isn’t true for a few reasons.

            1) industrial solar, biomass, wind, and hydro are not decentralized. Only rooftop solar is, and even that is not decentralized when you realize that a city with lots of solar acts as one giant solar farm.

            2) By your own admission, Germany’s experiment has not been cheap.

            https://a.disquscdn.com/uploads/mediaembed/images/2107/6388/original.jpg?w=800&h

          • onesecond

            The USA still have the dominant geopolitical position in the world, the most influential film and music industry, the most powerful military and the most influential internet corporations. The USA had their finest hour in World War 2 and played a constructive role afterwards in Germany and English has become the world language because of this and the British Empire. That is all true. Also true is the fact that a lot of things got worse over the last decades and that there are a lot of things USA really isn’t number 1 anymore. The wealth gap, income inequality, the decline of the middle class, your failing education system, your health care system, your deficit, your debt, your out of hand military spending, your injust voting system, your problem with lobbyism, your low average life expectancy, your extremely high incarceration rate, your race inequality problem, your problem with polive violence, your obesity problem, your man made environmental catastrophies like fracking, your high rate of gun casualties and media like fox “news”. To sum it up, your economy and society has been failing for quite a time, now it sees the bad effect of policies that started under Reagan and got worse under the Bushes, and you only keep it alive by printing unseen amounts of new dollars, which you can get away with because of your dominant geopolitical position which forces everyone to accept dollars. It is called seignorage effect. I really worry what happens when the world moves away from the dollar and you can’t do that anymore. Will the US just accept becoming poor? Or will it lash out with the most powerful military in the world? I really want the US to prosper because that’s obviously better for the whole world. I tell you these things, because I like the US and I want you to wake up and do something about it. Don’t shoot the messenger.

            My point was, that BACK THEN, only a rich country like Germany could afford to subsidize renewables in order to create a market in order to drive prices down because of the economies of scale. But NOW renewables are competitive in a lot of parts of the worlds and will only become even better. A decentralized power system consisting of a lot of wind turbines and PV systems and microgrids ALREADY is the better option for developing countries and CHEAPER than building coal und nuclear plants with their infrastructural needs.

          • A decentralized power system consisting of a lot of wind turbines and PV systems and microgrids ALREADY is the better option for developing countries and CHEAPER than building coal und nuclear plants with their infrastructural needs.

            Hydro, wind and solar farms are decentralized? If they are cheaper, why the high electricity rates?

            a quote from Merkel in PC Magazine:

            “It is right that we now need a respite from photovoltaics,” Merkel said in view of new capacity figures for 2014, which failed to reach government targets.

          • onesecond

            “If they are cheaper, why the high electricity rates in Germany?” Because we still pay for the very first renewable installations that were done back in 2001 and we will pay for them via the renewable surcharge until 2021. That has nothing do to with the prices of wind and solar today, which have seen a great decline over the last 14 years. And especially solar is much cheaper in countries, that have more sun than Germany and where anti-dumping tolls for chinese moduls are not implemented. In Dubai PV delivers prices of below 6 cent/kWh.

          • Assuming a 20 year panel lifespan, you will be paying for new ones in 2021 (2021-2001 = 20), and Germany is not Dubai. The price decline is bottoming out, which is why Merkel is planning to move away from more solar.

          • onesecond

            20 years is usually the warranty period but the solar panels will probably last much longer than that, I heard anything between 40 and 100 years! But the point is, that new PV in 2021 will only get something about 5 cents anyway and not the 55 cents/kWh it got in 2001! The price decline is in no way bottoming out, for 2050 2 cents/kWh are forecasted. Right now prices in Germany stagnate at 9 cents/kWh only because of the import taxes on cheap Chinese moduls. The conservative Merkel planned to reduce addition of new solar because their peak supply around noon hurts utilites. But it is kind of too late for that now, the existing PV already pushed market prices way down on peak demand times in the middle of the day, that is why now even the utilites like Eon and EnBw are scrambling to go renewable.

          • “It is right that we now need a respite from photovoltaics,”–Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany.

            The conservative Merkel planned to reduce addition of new solar because their peak supply around noon hurts utilites.

            Translation: Merkel has been advised that more solar will further increase the already high electric rates for consumers (utilities, must, by law, stay solvent, and by law, must pass costs on to those who pay electric bills in order to continue to provide energy services). No utility = no backup for wind and solar = no grid to distribute energy.

            Read: Germany and carbon: post-industrialism meets the Iron Rule

          • onesecond

            Wow. I have just read the article you linked. The amount of backward thinking is truly astonishing. The funny thing is that the article even comes close to understand something with the sentence “unless Germany finds a way to make reliable, on-demand electricity with no carbon emissions.” That is exactly (!) what we are aspiring with renewables and we will do that and that is why this whole article is pointless. Of course we want to have a reliable electricity supply on demand! We just want that with renewables because of their inherent benefits and fear not, we will make that happen.
            Now back to Merkels quote: The relatively steep peak output of solar makes life more difficult for the utilities baseload plants because it cuts into their bottom line. That is why more flexible power stations like gas plants are a better fit for the renewables. Sadly the market design right now is such that the most polluting lignite planst are the most profitable, that is why the utilites want to hang on to them as long as possible, Instead of regulating the electricity market in such a way that gas plants would be favoured like Obama did in the US with the new EPA rules, Merkel obliged the lobby by slowing down the PV installations. That is why the wind turbine deployment is booming in Germany, last year and the next years to come, because the utilities see wind power as more compatible with their baseload plants because they don’t have this peak around noon. To stop the Energiewende of course would be political suicide because people over here understand very well the benefits of going renewable, so typical for Merkel, this is the way she tries to please everyone.
            So now back to the backup from conventional plants that is still needed for renewables. Right now we have this situation in Germany: In addition to the nuclear capacity we are about to close we also could close 36 (!) coal plants with 15 GW of power right now without endagering 24/7 electricity supply with the very high German standards at all. (You may know that Germany has the second highest reliability of electricity supply in the world after Denmark, the US is way down that list.) We can shut down these plants because Germany has a conventional operational power plant fleet of around 100 GW installed when peak demand only is about 75 GW thanks to improved energy efficiency and false assumptions of growing electricity demand. Therefore the only consequence of shutting down these plants would be raising the wholesale electricity price by 0.6 cents/kWh, which is really not a problem given the extremely low wholesale prices in Germany that exist thanks to the excess capacity. So shutting down these plants would actually lead to lower consumer prices because the renewable surcharge is less if the wholesale prices go up. On the other hand more PV could be integrated then without making electricity consumers pay more than they do right now. This is a pure politcal choice.
            In the long term conventional power plants such as coal and nuclear are not needed at all, because gas plants operated with renewable gas (power-to-gas from excess supply times) and storage such as battery and hydro will replace them entirely. You also may fear not premature shut down of conventional plants that are needed for backup. Our grid stability agency indentifies those, forbids closure until they are no longer needed and compensates the utilities for that.
            So referring to the starting point of our argument: We know what we are doing, we can afford the Energiewende and it will pay back. And the whole world follows of course, because renewables make economic sense, not because everyone is a deluded hippie, as you seem to think.

          • And the whole world follows of course, because renewables make economic sense, not because everyone is a deluded hippie, as you seem to think.

            You are at odds with the team of Google engineers convened to find a way to replace fossil fuels. They concluded that it can’t be done with the combination of existing nuclear and renewable technologies.

            So referring to the starting point of our argument: We know what we are doing, we can afford the Energiewende and it will pay back.

            … not my argument. The Energiewende is an experiment that will determine things like, cost, rate of incorporation, energy mix, emissions reduction, and on and on for a highly motivated first world industrial nation. Nobody knows what or when the final results will be. Some data is already emerging.

            1) Merkel had to explain to the unhappy solar lobby that it’s time to stop further slow solar expansion. So now we have a feel for how far solar can penetrate in this scenario.

            2) Carbon emission reduction has plateaued (see chart below). We will get to see when or if it starts to drop again and at what rate.

            3) knowing the rate of carbon reduction, we can calculate the impact of choosing to reduce nuclear instead of coal (coal related fatality rates, costs, etc).

            4) The Energiewende is presently costing German consumers about €24 billion a year.

            See the links provided in my other comments that support all of the above.

            No big deal. It’s an experiment, not a crusade. Don’t get your lederhosen in a bind.

            https://a.disquscdn.com/uploads/mediaembed/images/2107/6388/original.jpg?w=600&h

          • onesecond

            Well, Google engineers failing to come up with anything better than already existed blamed it on something other than themselves. Lol, yeah sure, this one team of engineers is right and hundreds other teams of scientists that concluded, it can be done with renewables alone are wrong. That’s a good one. 😀

            1) Merkel never said anything about stopping further solar expansion. She only said the rate at 7 GW a year was too fast and her official government goal right now is the EXPANSION of solar at a rate of 2 – 2.5 GW a year.

            2) CO2 emissions didn’t plateau, they are going down, just not as fast as they could be going down due to Coal lobby success. They are projected to play out to reach a 32 to 35 percent reduction in 2020 with the already implemeted laws. This falls short of the minus 40% goal in 2020 and that is why further regulation is in the making which of course is again heaviliy opposed by the coal lobby.

            3) There is no constant rate as the CO2 reduction is the result of ongoing regulation. There is an average rate since 1990 and that rate is looking good for Germany, much better than the US.

            4) Nuclear and coal did cost the German taxpayer much more until now. The only difference is, that these costs were hidden by wasting taxpayer money, while the costs for the Energy transition are transparent on the consumer bill. While the costs for renewables are still lower than what was paid for nuclear and coal they could even be much lower if the regulations the Greens originally put in place still were there.
            The links you provided didn’t provide any proof, it was just somebody rambling on about his fear of the slave age returning and some google engineers coming up with nothing.
            All these facts I just provided on the other hand can be easily found everywhere on the internet with a little research, you could go here for example: http://energytransition.de/. You don’t have to go on being willfully misinformed, you know. It just saddens me that facts about another country’s energy policy seemingly feel like a crusade for you. And by the way I like the CO2 reduction graph you post, it shows how far we have already come.

          • Well, Google engineers failing to come up with anything better than already existed blamed it on something other than themselves. Lol, yeah sure, this one team of engineers is right and hundreds other teams of scientists that concluded, it can be done with renewables alone are wrong. That’s a good one. 😀

            Riiiight …hundreds other teams of scientists have concluded it can be done with renewables.

            Also read: New IEA Study: Least Cost Scenario has Nuclear as the World’s Largest Source of Electricity by 2050 and this study by the National Renewable Energy Lab.

            Merkel never said anything about stopping further solar expansion.

            Her quote “It is right that we now need a respite from photovoltaics” didn’t go into any detail. Taking a chance that you are correct for once, I added a correction to my comment.

            CO2 emissions didn’t plateau, they are going down, just not as fast as they could be going down….

            Oxford definition of plateaued:“… to reach a state of little or no change after a time of activity or progress.”

            I plotted a best fit line through German carbon emissions for the last six years and it was going up, not down.

            …due to Coal lobby success … which of course is again heaviliy opposed by the coal lobby.

            …and all this time I thought you were the spokesperson for the German Borg collective.

            …that rate is looking good for Germany, much better than the US.

            You seem to think that this is some kind of contest between Germany and the U.S. I’m simply discussing an energy policy that happens to be a German one. It has nothing to do with nationalism.

            Nuclear and coal did cost the German taxpayer much more until now.

            Well, you are half right. Coal has many external costs due to its emissions, mines, etc, so yes it has been costing people their lives. Until now? German coal is still killing a few thousand people every year. Nuclear has been very cost effective and low carbon, in addition to not killing anyone.

            All these facts I just provided on the other hand can be easily found everywhere on the internet with a little research

            Those aren’t facts you’re finding. Anyone can find anything they want to believe on the internet.

            It just saddens me that facts about another country’s energy policy seemingly feel like a crusade for you.

            Riiight. This is what I really said: “No big deal. It’s an experiment, not a crusade. Don’t get your lederhosen in a bind.”

            You don’t have to go on being willfully misinformed, you know.

            Lol …the human capacity for self-deception knows no bounds. A proselytizing creationist said the exact same thing to me once. The problem with over-hyping renewable energy is that it has given lay persons like yourself the false impression that renewables can do it all. Even if Germany were to pull off 100% renewables, it will largely be done by taking renewable energy off the grid outside of their borders. It won’t be a model that could scale to the world. Humanity will also need nuclear, and a lot of new technology not yet developed as well.

            And it isn’t just about fossil fuels. They are only part of the global warming problem. Land use change is another big ticket item. The oceans are acidifying very quickly. I just plotted the graph below from the 2015 BP review. It represents the last 50 years of global energy consumption.

            http://www.energytrendsinsider.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/TotalEWindSolar.jpg?00cfb7

          • onesecond

            “Riiiight …hundreds other teams of scientists have concluded it can be done with renewables.”
            Funny, a quote from your link: “Similar studies have been done by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), the EIA (Energy Information Association), NREL (National Renewable Energy Lab), Greenpeace, and on and on.” Like from Deutsche Bank, UBS and other banks, different German Fraunhofer Institutes and universities in Germany and around the world, IRENA, the IMF, nearly every consulting group you can think of( McKinsey, PWC etc.) and dozens of different government studies, including the Chinese, France and Japan. And about your link: Funny that the original headline was “How solar can become the world’s largest source of electricity” and that the article had nothing in it to back up the changed headline.

            “Her quote “It is right that we now need a respite from photovoltaics” didn’t go into any detail. Taking a chance that you are correct for once, I added a correction to my comment.”

            Of course I am correct, you should really be able to find out about current German policy if you are that interested in it.

            “Oxford definition of plateaued:”… to reach a state of little or no change after a time of activity or progress.””
            I obviously spoke about CO2 emissions going down further until 2020 and therefore not plateuing. Also I emphasized the average reduction rate since 1990. It is dishonest to fit only a small part of the data points to suit your agenda.

            “…and all this time I thought you were the spokesperson for the German Borg collective.”
            Lol. Nearly in every comment I went into detail about German policy and the ongoing fight with the conventional untilies. Not my fault you couldn’t get this. We already won against nuclear and we will bring down coal too.

            “You seem to think that this is some kind of contest between Germany and the U.S. I’m simply discussing an energy policy that happens to be a German one. It has nothing to do with nationalism.”

            It is called providing context. You seriously cannot think discussing this topic could lead anywhere if the acomplishments are not compared to anything. In German schools you would not get past a D- with that approach, just saying. This has nothing to do with nationalism.

            “Well, you are half right. Coal has many external costs due to its emissions, mines, etc, so yes it has been costing people their lives. Until now? German coal is still killing a few thousand people every year. Nuclear has been very cost effective and low carbon, in addition to not killing anyone.”

            I wasn’t even talking about externalities, I was just talking about money that was handed out to them. Look at the paid subsidies in this graph from 2012:http://www.heise.de/tp/bild/37/37513/37513_2.html

            Of course the externalities will come on top of that. I think the only thing we can agree on, is that coal sucks, but Nuclear of course has externalities too, like the environmental catastrophe that is Uran mining and leakages from nuclear waste like in the German Asse, and the radioactive contamination all over Europe from Tschernobyl. Nobody knows how many people died from that. Furthermore Nuclear has already killed workers in Germany, in Grundremmingen 1977 leaving the block A of the plant a total loss. In addition to killing people it is also not cost effective: The French court of Auditors (really not an anti-nuclear organisation or country) has concluded that nuclear is to expensive and that is why they will replace their ageing nuclear not with new one but with renewables. The share of nuclear is therefore planned to go down to 50% from 75% now by 2030.

            http://www.wsj.com/articles/france-to-dim-its-reliance-on-nuclear-power-1403113287

            “Those aren’t facts you’re finding. Anyone can find anything they want to believe on the internet.”

            Well, you actually didn’t provide anything to prove me wrong, the links you posted really have no substance. Given that it is true that anyone can find anything they want on the internet, that kind of speaks for itself. But of course I will never get you to agree to reality, I know that.

            “Riiight. This is what I really said: “No big deal. It’s an experiment, not a crusade. Don’t get your lederhosen in a bind.””

            Exactly, there you have it, you started talking of crusades, not me.

            “Lol …the human capacity for self-deception knows no bounds. A proselytizing creationist said the exact same thing to me once. The problem with over-hyping renewable energy is that it has given lay persons like yourself the false impression that renewables can do it all. Even if Germany were to pull off 100% renewables, it will largely be done by taking renewable energy off the grid outside of their borders. It won’t be a model that could scale to the world. Humanity will also need nuclear, and a lot of new technology not yet developed as well.”

            Well, given that evolution is still disputed in the US, I shouldn’t be surprised that you had to talk to a creationist. How is that even possible that over 40% of Americans still believe that creationist nonsense? Mind-blowing. Well, let’s not get sidetracked. I am not over-hyping renewables, I just state the fact that the economy of the world could be powered by 100% renewable energy. That is just physics. I happen to have a Phd. in physics and I have been on the working group of the federal Green party working group about energy when I still had the time. If you don’t get that renewables can do it all, you really have no clue. Nuclear is simply not needed, too expensive and Germany won’t be the first one to go to 100% renewable electricity. We already discussed Iceland, Norway, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Tasmania etc. and I think I already posted this link of my colleagues confirming that it even could be done with solar alone.

            http://cleantechnica.com/2015/05/14/todays-solar-panels-can-power-the-world-mit-study-finds/

            “And it isn’t just about fossil fuels. They are only part of the global warming problem. Land use change is another big ticket item. The oceans are acidifying very quickly. I just plotted the graph below from the 2015 BP review. It represents the last 50 years of global energy consumption.”
            As for the land use, just look at how little land is needed to power the world from solar: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desertec
            This is just for visualisation, it will of course be done decentralised all over the world.

            I agree that Global Warming and Ocean acidfication are great threats and that a massive renewable buildout must occur. Because of renewabels being cheaper and much faster to deploy than nuclear, any amount of money spent on nuclear would be put to better use if it were to be spent on renewables. Nuclear is just not up for the job as it has been proven time and again in the past, it is way to expensive, needs way to long to be deployed and is unsafe, which stops the deployment with every catastrophe that is happening. Nuclear is only a detrimental distraction while renewables have the potential to grow exponentially due to beneficial economics and the lack of drawbacks. That we need exponential growth is clear from the graph you put there, so that leaves nuclear out of the picture.

          • Funny, a quote from your link: “Similar studies have been done by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), the EIA (Energy Information Association), NREL (National Renewable Energy Lab), Greenpeace, and on and on.” Like from Deutsche Bank, UBS and other banks, different German Fraunhofer Institutes and universities in Germany and around the world, IRENA, the IMF, nearly every consulting group you can think of( McKinsey, PWC etc.) and dozens of different government studies, including the Chinese, France and Japan.

            Funny, your list of teams falls far short of the hundreds of teams you claimed.

            Remember what I said about how easy it is to use the internet to bolster whatever you want to believe, be it vaccines causing autism, a 6,000 year old Earth, or alien abduction? Secondly, let me point out that few of the teams you list claim renewables alone can replace all fossil fuels. The studies are typically projections and scenarios that suggest how to best increase renewable energy use up to some chosen goal (typically 80% of electricity use only, which is only about 40% of total use) and sometimes include relative cost projections to do it. The quality and veracity of studies varies widely. A study by Greenpeace on nuclear energy for example, would not be a credible source.

            And about your link: Funny that the original headline was “How solar can become the world’s largest source of electricity” and that the article had nothing in it to back up the changed headline.

            Funny, the graphic shown below from that article certainly backs up the headline “New IEA Study: Least Cost Scenario has Nuclear as the World’s Largest Source of Electricity by 2050”.

            And this quote from the other article that followed “Google Engineers Conclude that Renewable Energy Will Not Result in Significant Emissions Reductions”:

            1) Two writers (myself and one at Grist) often draw polar opposite conclusions from the same study.

            2) Pundits tend to focus almost exclusively on wind and solar power (as witnessed by the comments below my article).

            3) Wind and solar (as well as nuclear) are small pieces in a large climate change puzzle and if you look at the graphic at the top of this article you will note that climate change is just one piece of yet another puzzle.

            4) No entity can accurately predict energy trends three decades out.

            http://www.energytrendsinsider.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/IEAResults.jpg?00cfb7

          • onesecond

            You always come back to your one and only strawman’s argument of pointing to some Google engineers. Yeah, whatever. And for the graph, I really don’t see it, where is there anything mentioned about costs? Please enlighten me.

          • You always come back to your one and only strawman’s argument of pointing to some Google engineers. Yeah, whatever. And for the graph, I really don’t see it, where is there anything mentioned about costs? Please enlighten me.

            Enlighten you I wiil. The graph visible above your comment is from the IEA study (not the Google study), one of several studies demonstrating the limits of renewable energy. And that particular study does estimate that the nuclear 2DS scenario would be much less expensive than the hi-Renewable scenario.

          • onesecond

            Oh stop it. The EIA has been wrong on renewables so many times in the past that the only approprate response right now is laughing in their face. When you have gotten it wrong every single time, how on earth could you expect anyone to still give a shit?

            http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/ieas-low-carbon-scenario-again-underestimates-the-role-of-renewables-20689

          • …says the guy who has been wrong so many times in this debate that the only appropriate response is laughing in his face.

          • onesecond

            You have been wrong over and over while I corrected you, so feel free to laugh but you will laugh alone and the joke is on you. 😉

          • Of course I am correct, you should really be able to find out about current German policy if you are that interested in it.

            …when someone does not bother to provide a link to verify what they said, you really can’t trust what they said. That’s life on the internet.

            I obviously spoke about CO2 emissions going down further until 2020 and therefore not plateuing.

            Riiiight …obviously. Here is what you said: ” CO2 emissions didn’t plateau, they are going down, just not as fast as they could be going down due to Coal lobby success.

            Also I emphasized the average reduction rate since 1990. It is dishonest to fit only a small part of the data points to suit your agenda.

            Sorry, but the number 1990 is not in your comment. It’s common for someone who is not doing so well in a debate to start attacking the character of their opponent. Try not to give in to that urge. Clearly, I was emphasizing the plateau in emissions since 2009. It’s dishonest of you to ignore that fact and continue to emphasize the reduction rate prior to 2009, and then to predict the future for us after the data ends in 2014.

            Lol. Nearly in every comment I went into detail about German policy and the ongoing fight with the conventional untilies. Not my fault you couldn’t get this.

            Lol …I just read through all of your comments again. A total of three out of God knows how many of your comments made that point. Not my fault you thought it was in nearly every comment.

            We already won against nuclear and we will bring down coal too.

            Germany has idled some nuclear power plants. It still is using nuclear. You need to better define the word “won” considering the possibility that eventually the idled nuclear may come back on line to get emissions back on track. Idling nuclear instead of coal when trying to reduce emissions is why emissions reductions have stalled since 2009.

            …It is called providing context. You seriously cannot think discussing this topic could lead anywhere if the acomplishments are not compared to anything. In German schools you would not get past a D- with that approach, just saying. This has nothing to do with nationalism.

            Sorry, but “context” and “nationalism’ are not synonyms. Comments like ” “In German schools you would not get past a D- with that approach …” are not only disingenuous, but nationalistic in tone as well and are not putting anything into context.

            I wasn’t even talking about externalities, I was just talking about money that was handed out to them.

            All told, Germany’s renewable energy subsidies amount to about €24 billion a year, according to Germany’s economics ministry.

            Look at the paid subsidies in this graph …

            Your graph came from Greenpeace …enough said. Critiques of studies like the Greenpeace one show how they define just about every cost ever associated with nuclear weapons development as a subsidy to nuclear energy. Not unlike claiming the same for military planes and commercial ones. Everything about the study is biased to show nuclear in a negative light.

            Now look at the table from the EIA below and realize that if you divided each dollar value by energy produced as would be appropriate, the results are even more striking.

            http://www.eia.gov/analysis/requests/subsidy/

          • onesecond

            Exactyl, that’s life on the internet. If you want to know something, google it, but obviously you have been more content with a citation, without really knowing what it means. I’ m not there to make your homework, and the current German govenment plans are really not a secret, I’m sure even in English.
            Yes, that is what I said, they didn’t plateau because they are going down further till 2020. So what’s your problem?
            Wait a minute, everybody should know what average means, of course its an average from all the data points on which the CO2 reduction in Germany is measured, and thats against the base year of 1990, if you like it or not. It is of course dishonest to cherrypick only a few years to suit your agenda. If you feel attacked, then I am sorry but that’s just how it is. Again not my fault.
            Even if it was only three comments, so what? Do you need a thousand until they get in your head?
            The nuclear plants will be phased out and they will never get online. Nuclear is dead in Germany. I already explained to you in detail, that Germany could phase out 15 GW of coal capacity in addition to the nuclear phaseout. That the emissions are not falling as much as they could has absolutely nothing to do with the nuclear phaseout.
            Again that is just the truth, it was providing context. Don’t victimize yourself all the time, you get the response according to what you write. Just look in the mirror.
            Well, the 24 billion figure is disputable, because if the surcharge system hadn’t been changed it would be a lot lower. But it is as it is and still doesn’t change the fact that coal and nuclear both have received hundreds of billions each.
            The Greenpeace numbers can’t include any subsidies for German nuclear weapons, because Germany does not have any nuclear weapons and didn’t develop any. The numbers they posted are around that in all the German subsidy studies I have seen. And I don’t know what you want to proof with your data sheet from 2013. The nuclear power plants get most of their subsidies for construction and just because nearly everyone in the US stopped building them because they don’t make sense anymore this does not mean that they did’t get vast subsides when they were hip in the fifties and onwards.

          • It is of course dishonest to cherrypick only a few years to suit your agenda.

            Don’t victimize yourself all the time, you get the response according to what you write. Just look in the mirror.

            Remember when I said you know a debate is reaching the end when the same things start to be repeated as you do here? This is the point where all I have to do is cut and paste my previous responses over and over again.

            It’s common for someone who is not doing so well in a debate to start attacking the character of their opponent. Try not to give in to that urge. Clearly, I was emphasizing the plateau in emissions since 2009. It’s dishonest of you to ignore that fact and continue to emphasize the reduction rate prior to 2009, and then claim to predict the future for us after the data ends in 2014.

            Even if it was only three comments, so what? Do you need a thousand until they get in your head?

            Again, if you feel attacked, then I am sorry but that’s just how it is. That isn’t what debate is about. I’m not trying to convince you of anything. That isn’t possible. Debate partners rarely cede an argument. Debate is for the audience (any readers who may be following this exchange–God help them). They will compare your logic, reasoning, and sources to mine, and draw their own conclusions. And you know a debate is reaching the end when the same things start to be repeated as you do here.

            The nuclear plants will be phased out and they will never get online …. Nuclear is dead in Germany

            Make it into a chant, and maybe rock back and forth while you say it. Time will tell.

            I already explained to you in detail, that Germany could phase out 15 GW of coal capacity in addition to the nuclear phaseout. That the emissions are not falling as much as they could has absolutely nothing to do with the nuclear phaseout.

            Riiight …phasing out nuclear instead of coal has nothing to do with emissions reductions stalling, says the guy claiming to have proof that “it even could be done with solar alone.” Obviously, you have been more content with a citation, without really knowing what it means. You actually didn’t provide anything to prove me wrong, the links you posted really have no substance.

            Well, the 24 billion figure is disputable, because if the surcharge system hadn’t been changed it would be a lot lower.

            You are disputing the German renewable energy subsidies that amount to about €24 billion a year, according to your own economics ministry?

            But it is as it is and still doesn’t change the fact that coal and nuclear both have received hundreds of billions each.

            True or not, 10 x 24 billion = hundreds of billions for renewables. It’s comical to claim that coal has been cheaper for all these decades, not just in Germany, but all around the globe, because of German subsidies to German coal. You are arguing that every nation on the planet uses fossil fuels, not because they are the cheapest option, but because of government subsidies, which, in a nutshell, amounts to a ridiculous global conspiracy theory. And if you divide those subsidies by units of energy produced, you will find that they are miniscule compared to renewables per unit energy produced.

            The Greenpeace numbers can’t include any subsidies for German nuclear weapons …

            NSS. I was talking about one of the ways Greenpeace distorted our nuclear subsidies. They are an anti-nuclear group. It’s telling that you turn to Greenpeace for that kind of information. In American schools you would not get past a D- with that approach, just saying. This has nothing to do with nationalism.

            The numbers they [Greenpeace] posted are around that in all the German subsidy studies I have seen.

            Assuming that’s true, it’s because you only read what reinforces what you want to believe. It’s called bias.

            And I don’t know what you want to proof with your data sheet from 2013. The nuclear power plants get most of their subsidies for construction and just because nearly everyone in the US stopped building them because they don’t make sense anymore this does not mean that they did’t get vast subsides when they were hip in the fifties and onwards.

            I’ m not here to make your homework but the subsidy argument against nuclear is brushed away by the existence of France’s ultra low-carbon electricity sector and equally low electric bills. That energy revolution experiment has been done and the results are in. Nuclear energy has been providing the lion’s share of low carbon electrical energy for both the U.S. and Germany for many decades. We stopped building nuclear simply because fossil fuels were cheaper. It’s why you built so much coal. You subsidize renewable to the tune of $24 billion a year for the same reason. Without a price on carbon, fossil fuels are tough to beat economically . That’s why they power the world. That’s why nuclear and renewables get subsidies. You could look at them as the cost of low carbon energy.

            Wait a minute, everybody should know what average means, of course its an average from all the data points on which the CO2 reduction in Germany is measured, and thats against the base year of 1990, if you like it or not.

            You are referring to the chart plotted below that shows German CO2 emissions going flat 2009 through 2014 using a best fit trendline?

            Also see the other chart that further refutes your claim that renewables are much faster to deploy than nuclear.

            http://thebreakthrough.org/images/main_image/geoff_russell.png

          • onesecond

            Yeah, I can see that you’re already copy pasting. Whatever floats your boat. But it is really astounding how dishonest you are with you’re posts. You can see another example in the big graph about GW deployment of MWh/y where you have the nerve to include the very first years since 2001 when renewables started practically at zero. Since then Germany has proven that adding 11 GW per year is not a problem, while even a single nuclear plant in Europe nowadays needs more than a decade. And even the second small graph shows how dishonest you are on focusing on 4 years and ignoring the overall trend. You are doing a fantastic job by refuting yourself. You are like the Westboro Baptist church. They were very helpful on promoting full equality, even if they couldn’t see it themselves. And you do a fantastic job of promoting renewables over nuclear.

          • … but Nuclear of course has externalities too

            There are a lot of people who are very unhappy about wind farms and their externalities. Unlike any other power source, only nuclear is obligated to pay for and deal with all of its waste products, which amount to very little. So little, that after over half century of operation their waste can sit in containers in their own parking lots.

            …like the environmental catastrophe that is Uran mining and leakages from nuclear waste like in the German Asse ….

            Uranium mining today has no more or less environmental impact than the mines for the material (aluminum, silica, rare earths, steel, copper, etc) to build wind and solar. The German Asse is one of those old mines dating from the sixties. In the States it may or may not qualify as a superfund site. See map below of some of our superfund sites and 99% of them have nothing to do with nuclear waste.

            …and the radioactive contamination all over Europe from Tschernobyl. Nobody knows how many people died from that.

            That was 30 years ago and because there are no more Chernobyl style power plants (a containment dome free reactor hastily built to maximize weapons production to close or maintain a perceived missile gap) you can’t have another Chernobyl style disaster. Three reactors melted down at Fukushima resulting in no casualties or cancers.

            The World Health Organization (WHO) calculated about 4,000 and a 2006 report commissioned by the Green Party and performed by two anti-nuclear energy researchers only “predicted” about the same number of deaths annually as that caused by German coal.

            Furthermore Nuclear has already killed workers in Germany, in Grundremmingen 1977 leaving the block A of the plant a total loss.

            …that was almost 40 years ago. Now compare that low level of danger to just about anything, like getting out of bathtubs. You are actually promoting the safety of nuclear.

            In addition to killing people it is also not cost effective

            The killing people thing, as I showed above is absurd. Existing nuclear power plants are highly cost effective. Nobody is claiming that Germany’s nuclear power plants are not cost effective. The cost argument only applies to new nuclear and of course, cost is relative to other options. Germany’s coal is used because it’s cheap. The German $25 billion a year renewable surcharge would pay for 34 AP1000 reactors over ten years. Add those to existing reactors and they would supply about 80% of Germany’s electricity. So, obviously, Germany’s renewable energy is no more or less cost effective than nuclear.

            Try to keep in mind that I’m not against developing renewable energy to a feasible point and I’m not suggesting Germany should have an energy mix with that much nuclear. I’m only discussing Germany’s decision to displace nuclear instead of coal with renewables.

            The French court of Auditors (really not an anti-nuclear organisation or country) has concluded that nuclear is to expensive and that is why they will replace their ageing nuclear not with new one but with renewables. The share of nuclear is therefore planned to go down to 50% from 75% now by 2030.

            Actually, that isn’t what the article says. Grids typically use a mix of energy options to minimize cost. That is why Germany isn’t trying to just use wind, or just solar, or even just wind and solar, or even just wind, solar, hydro, biomass and on and on. France has decided to further diversify its energy mix. Rather than spend money to maintain older nuclear plants, they will let some close dropping its mix to 50% nuclear, using more of other low carbon sources to take their place. Smart move to divert older nuclear power plant maintenance money to further diversify without increasing emissions. Germany’s decision to displace nuclear instead of coal has just made emissions reduction harder. See the charts below which document the decline in emissions per capita between Germany and France. Note also that on average, Germany has pumped about 70% more carbon into the atmosphere over the last 15 years, and continues to do so.
            http://energytransition.de/files/2015/02/13francevsgermany.png

            http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-pZKfZzZlhq0/Uvmg8SN7ASI/AAAAAAAAA5M/oFsOUVGReIk/s1600/SuperFundSites.JPG

          • onesecond

            Wow, you are so far of the mark with the externalities of wind farms and nuclear plants, it is unbelievable. Nuclear power is the only form of power where the plant doesn’t need an insurance and where the waste treatment and storage is this heavily subsidized. Wind turbines only real externalities on the other hand are bird and bat fatalities, where numerous studies have shown that this can be managed. They just don’t produce any waste in operation. Or do you propose storing the used up wind underground for millenia? 😀
            Uran mining produces a lot more radioactive waste than the mining of other materials, plus we don’t need Uran for our electricity supply at all, so why should anyone bother with Uran mining at all? Other ressources can be recycled while Uran is used up. If all the electricity in the world would be provided by Uran, the economically viable ressources would be gone in only a few years and it would get even more expensive. Nuclear just can’t compete with renewables on economics. Apart from that I hope that you agree that I doesn’t make sense to create new superfund sites and that mankind should stop creating new ones.
            So only a few thousand additional annual deaths because of the Tschernobyl desaster? And you don’t agree that’s bad? Well, you won’t hear any arguments from my side defending coal, coal and nuclear both suck and shut be shut down immediately and replaced by 100% renewable electricity. As I wrote before, we have 15 GW of excess coal capacity in Germany which could be shut down right now in addition to the nuclear phaseout. That this is not happening has nothing to do with the nuclear phaseout, that is just simply the success of the coal lobby.
            You are right, that it is a policy decision if a society goes down the nuclear or the renewable road. But it really wouldn’t be cost effective to go half nuclear and half renewable, because nuclear plants would even get more expensive to operate them in a flexible mode. But baseload plants are not compatible with renewable energy that is why they have to go first.
            If Germany did phase out all the lignite plants it could right now and further coal phase out would be blocked by the nuclear phase out, than you would have a point regarding the CO2 emssions. But still it is up to the people if they want to live next to a potential nuclear bomb or not. I disagree that a new nuclear disaster like Tschernobyl won’t happen again. The crew there basically screwed up bad and this could happen again everwhere. In Switzerland they drilled through the nuclear confinement because they wanted to hang-up a fire extinguisher! And in Belgium nobody knows how bad the steel confinement is compromised and how long it will hold up, that is why a lot of nuclear plants sit idle. You just can’t guarantee that nuclear plants won’t blow up and that is why it is immoral to force people into accepting nuclear or coal. They should be able to reject both, as they did in Germany with planning to go 100% renewable. That you can’t switch over in an instant is obvious too, isn’t it? The fight right now is with the coal lobby on phasing out as much as possible and ramping up the renewable buildout.

          • Nuclear power is the only form of power where the plant doesn’t need an insurance and where the waste treatment and storage is this heavily subsidized.

            What subsidy? Because nuclear energy generates so little waste, here in the States, after half a century of nuclear power, it all fits in the nuclear power plant’s parking lots. Power plants have already paid the government for the cost of developing a central storage location. From Wikipedia article on the Nuclear Waste Policy Act:

            The Nuclear Waste Fund receives almost $750 million in fee revenues each year and has an unspent balance of $25 billion. However (according to the Draft Report by the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future), actions by both Congress and the Executive Branch have made the money in the fund effectively inaccessible to serving its original purpose. The commission made several recommendations on how this situation may be corrected. In late 2013, a federal court ruled that the Department of Energy must stop collecting fees for nuclear waste disposal until provisions are made to collect nuclear waste.

            onesecond continues:

            Wind turbines only real externalities on the other hand are bird and bat fatalities, where numerous studies have shown that this can be managed. They just don’t produce any waste in operation. Or do you propose storing the used up wind underground for millenia? 😀

            Strawman arguments don’t work in a comment field where readers can wriggle their finger over their mouse wheel to verify if your debate partner ever actually uttered the words you put in his mouth (you are blowing smoke). Waste storage is a wind externality? With wind, the externalities deal primarily with bird and bat mortalities. Read Renewable Energy Versus Wildlife Conservation.

            Uran mining produces a lot more radioactive waste than the mining of other materials

            Radiation is everywhere. It’s normal. What you don’t want is too much radiation. Too much solar radiation will damage your skin, increase your chances of skin cancer. Not enough and you could get a vitamin deficiency. Modern uranium mining does not result in harmful radiation levels.

            …plus we don’t need Uran for our electricity supply at all, so why should anyone bother with Uran mining at all?

            Well, as I’ve pointed out before, many studies have shown that renewables can’t do it all because they must be backed up with fossil fuels. The wind doesn’t always blow and the sun does not always shine. And as I said before, your argument is with the authors of those studies (IEA, WWF, Google, NREL etc.) not me.

            Other ressources can be recycled while Uran is used up. If all the electricity in the world would be provided by Uran, the economically viable ressources would be gone in only a few years and it would get even more expensive.

            Strawman arguments don’t work in a comment field where readers can wriggle their finger over their mouse wheel to verify if your debate partner ever actually uttered the words you put in his mouth (you are blowing smoke). I have never claimed that nuclear can do it all. The combination of nuclear and renewables can’t do it all.

            …and it would get even more expensive.

            Renewables can’t do it all either because you need fossil fuels to back them up. You seem to have a poor understanding of the climate change scenario. There are time windows that have to be met. We can’t take centuries to do this. Assuming that new breeder nuclear technology that would use existing nuclear waste as fuel does not arrive in time or at all, there is enough nuclear fuel to replace all coal until about 2050. And certainly, if the world would further reduce its nuclear weaponry, there would be even more fuel to buy humanity even more time to find technologies to fight climate change. We wouldn’t need nuclear if renewables could displace all fossil fuels for total primary energy consumption. As the studies I’ve cited demonstrate, they can’t, even with assist from nuclear. Humanity does not have the technology it needs and anti-nuclear energy ideologues are wanting to throw out one of our proven sources of energy.

            Nuclear just can’t compete with renewables on economics.

            >$24 billion a year in German renewable energy subsidies. Enough said.

            Apart from that I hope that you agree that I doesn’t make sense to create new superfund sites and that mankind should stop creating new ones.

            You missed the point again. After over half of a century of operation, nuclear energy has only created one Superfund/Europe’s largest wildlife preserver site. The bulk of the Fukushima mess will soon be cleaned up.

            So only a few thousand additional annual deaths because of the Tschernobyl desaster? And you don’t agree that’s bad?

            Strawman arguments don’t work in a comment field where readers can wriggle their finger over their mouse wheel to verify if your debate partner ever actually uttered the words you put in his mouth (you are blowing smoke). I never said it wasn’t bad. I pointed out that in total, it was equivalent to annual German coal deaths and that it pales in comparison by an order of magnitude to the annual car deaths in the United States.

            Well, you won’t hear any arguments from my side defending coal, coal and nuclear both suck

            Coal and nuclear don’t really belong in the same sentence. Although both are proven sources of affordable and scalable energy, one is lower carbon than solar, the other is the main source of CO2 emissions. One is among the safest forms of energy production we have, the other kills millions from lung disease. Nuclear belongs in the low carbon energy category, along with wind, solar, and hydro.

            …and shut be shut down immediately and replaced by 100% renewable electricity.

            Riiiight ….immediately. The studies I cited demonstrate that 100% global renewable electricity isn’t possible because it has to be backed up with fossil fuels. And electricity generation is less than half of energy consumption that has to be decarbonized, and energy consumption is just part of global GHG emissions.

            As I wrote before, we have 15 GW of excess coal capacity in Germany which could be shut down right now in addition to the nuclear phaseout.

            That makes no more sense now than it did the first three times you said it. A GW of “excess coal capacity” by definition, would produce no emissions or electricity and has no operating expense. A GWH, on the other hand, is a measure of energy and therefore emissions produced, and incurs operating expenses to pass on to consumers. And if the “excess” coal plant isn’t fully amortized, consumers will continue to pay for it even if it produces no power, whether you tear it down or not. Maybe you can elaborate.

            That this is not happening has nothing to do with the nuclear phaseout, that is just simply the success of the coal lobby

            You keep bringing up this evil coal lobby that in reality, represents ordinary German citizens who do not want to be saddled with the economic penalty (loss of jobs) of switching from coal to renewables.

            But it really wouldn’t be cost effective to go half nuclear and half renewable …

            The energy mix in a given location is a function of the natural resources available. In a place with little sun, wind, or water suitable for hydro, nuclear would tend to be utilized more heavily. Where I live, 90% of our electricity comes from hydro, only 5% from nuclear. A half and half scenario would be pretty unlikely anywhere. As for cost effective, >$24 billion a year in German renewable energy subsidies. Enough said.

            …nuclear plants would even get more expensive to operate them in a flexible mode.

            First let me point out that France gets roughly 70% of its electricity from nuclear and their electric bills are significantly lower than German bills. Obviously, nuclear can affordably be used to do significant load following.

            But here is the glaring missing link in your argument. Wind and solar certainly can’t be operated in a “flexible mode.” Fossil fuels are primarily used for that in Germany. They are what make wind and solar possible. Wind and solar are joined at the hip to fossil fuels. They are in reality, a fossil fuel hybrid system. That missing link is what the Google Engineering team was largely referring to when it concluded that we don’t have the technology to decarbonize primary energy use.

            But baseload plants are not compatible with renewable energy that is why they have to go first.

            You pass on arguments you’ve read, don’t fully comprehend, and have made no attempt to verify. First, let me translate the renewable energy urban legend you are trying to articulate. To maximize the use of non-dispatchable, intermittent renewable energy sources like wind and solar, you would need to reduce the amount of baseload power …but also increase the amount of fossil fueled dispatchable peaking and load following power plants to turn on and off as wind and solar fluctuate.

            So what would you expect to see if you replace your low carbon baseload nuclear with fossil fueled dispatchable energy? You would expect to see the graph below.

            If Germany did phase out all the lignite plants it could right now and further coal phase out would be blocked by the nuclear phase out, than you would have a point regarding the CO2 emssions.

            Your above sentence is indecipherable.

            But still it is up to the people if they want to live next to a potential nuclear bomb or not.

            It is not possible for a nuclear power plant to create a nuclear explosion. You are misleading readers. And this brings us around to my first comment. This isn’t about economics or climate change. It’s about irrational fear instilled by the anti-nuclear movement.

            I disagree that a new nuclear disaster like Tschernobyl won’t happen again. The crew there basically screwed up bad and this could happen again everwhere.

            Well, let me use this opportunity to repeat what I said before. Because there are no more Chernobyl style power plants (a containment dome free reactor hastily built to maximize weapons production to close or maintain a perceived missile gap) you can’t have another Chernobyl style disaster. Three reactors melted down at Fukushima resulting in no casualties or cancers.

            The World Health Organization (WHO) calculated about 4,000 and a 2006 report commissioned by the Green Party and performed by two anti-nuclear energy researchers only “predicted” about the same number of deaths annually as that caused by German coal.

            In Switzerland they drilled through the nuclear confinement because they wanted to hang-up a fire extinguisher!

            Riiiight …drilled right through 3 to 5 feet thick dense concrete and steel to hang a fire extinguisher.

            And in Belgium nobody knows how bad the steel confinement is compromised and how long it will hold up, that is why a lot of nuclear plants sit idle.

            Every industry, from airlines to shipping to bridges to hydro dams have to find and fix flaws as part of daily maintenance and construction.

            You just can’t guarantee that nuclear plants won’t blow up

            Actually, I can guarantee that nuclear power plants won’t cause a nuclear explosion, and there you go trying to mislead readers again. And let me repeat that because there are no more Chernobyl style power plants (a containment dome free reactor hastily built to maximize weapons production to close or maintain a perceived missile gap) you can’t have another Chernobyl style disaster. Three reactors melted down at Fukushima resulting in no casualties or cancers.

            The World Health Organization (WHO) calculated about 4,000 and a 2006 report commissioned by the Green Party and performed by two anti-nuclear energy researchers only “predicted” about the same number of deaths annually as that caused by German coal.

            …and that is why it is immoral to force people into accepting nuclear or coal.

            How do you justify the morality of allowing German coal to kill thousands while you displace nuclear instead?

            They should be able to reject both, as they did in Germany with planning to go 100% renewable.

            My argument certainly isn’t that they shouldn’t be free to attempt such a thing. It’s that they have chosen to do that because of irrational fear instilled by the anti-nuclear movement.

            https://a.disquscdn.com/uploads/mediaembed/images/2205/1092/original.jpg?w=600&h

          • onesecond

            You are just a nuclear fanboy who obviously chooses to ignore the facts like the hundreds of billions of subsidies paid to nuclear in Germany and the fact that nowhere sufficient insurance is provided by the private sector as it is demanded for every other sector so the countries have to step in. You furthermore ignore the fact that we are at the level of 100 GW renewable capacity that is added each year, a level nuclear just won’t ever get to, and this is just the beginning. Nuclear is dead, outcompeted on price and security by renewables and storage already and it will only get worse for nuclear. You may enjoy riding a dead horse but that’s a lonely pleasure.

          • Well, you actually didn’t provide anything to prove me wrong, the links you posted really have no substance.

            I just wanted to highlight that comment for other readers.

            Given that it is true that anyone can find anything they want on the internet, that kind of speaks for itself. But of course I will never get you to agree to reality, I know that.

            That isn’t what debate is about. I’m not trying to convince you of anything. That isn’t possible. Debate partners rarely cede an argument. Debate is for the audience (any readers who may be following this exchange–God help them). They will compare your logic, reasoning, and sources to mine, and draw their own conclusions. And you know a debate is reaching the end when the same things start to be repeated as you do here.

            Well, given that evolution is still disputed in the US, I shouldn’t be surprised that you had to talk to a creationist. How is that even possible that over 40% of Americans still believe that creationist nonsense? Mind-blowing. Well, let’s not get sidetracked.

            I thought the number was closer to 80%. In any case, you see what I said about repetition setting in? You continue stroking your nationalism, throwing barbs at mine. It’s about a decision to displace nuclear instead of coal with renewables. The fact that it is a German policy is irrelevant. It’s not a crusade. No need to get your lederhosen in a bunch.

            I am not over-hyping renewables.

            The term “over-hyping” is relative. We would have to settle on an agreed definition before spending time debating it.

            I just state the fact that the economy of the world could be powered by 100% renewable energy.

            You really should learn the difference between a hypothesis and a fact, especially if you ever plan to defend a thesis paper again.

            That is just physics.

            That’s just nonsensical. It’s primarily about economic and technological viability. Like many things, it may be theoretically possible, but nobody has proven that it is economically viable. In theory, we could power the world with just solar. Can you tell readers why we don’t?

            I happen to have a Phd. in physics and I have been on the working group of the federal Green party working group about energy when I still had the time.

            If you want to pursue the argument from authority gambit …my credentials trump your credentials.

            If you don’t get that renewables can do it all, you really have no clue.

            I didn’t author those studies. You’re saying the RE less than C (Renewables less than Coal) Google Engineering Team, the NREL, and the IEA authors have no clue.

            Nuclear is simply not needed, too expensive…

            You’ve “repeatedly” made similar statements before and I always come back with rational arguments along with links to studies that show that renewables can’t do it all, not even close. Feel free to re-read those responses, follow the links and the links inside those links, peruse the graphs at the bottom of the comments. As I said before, The German $25 billion a year renewable surcharge would pay for 34 AP1000 reactors over ten years. Add those to existing reactors and they would supply about 80% of Germany’s electricity by 2025. So, obviously, Germany’s renewable energy is no more or less cost effective than nuclear.

            …and Germany won’t be the first one to go to 100% renewable electricity. We already discussed Iceland, Norway, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Tasmania etc

            You seem to have lost track of the fact that even Germany is not shooting for 100% renewable energy by 2050. The goal is closer to 60%.

            The argument is that“…the world could be powered by 100% renewable energy.” You are trying to morph it into an easily defensible strawman. Of course a given location can rely entirely on renewables if it is economically viable to do so because of geography. I live in a city where 99% of our electricity comes from a combination of hydro, nuclear, and wind, which puts Germany, even France to shame. It’s been 90% hydro for many decades, every since we dammed many of our salmon runs to the verge of extinction. Try pulling that off in Indianapolis. But that’s just electricity, which leaves something like 60% of our energy that is not low carbon.

            … and I think I already posted this link of my colleagues confirming that it even could be done with solar alone.

            Spare me …one of your colleagues. Confirmed that we don’t need hydro, wind, biomass, biofuels, geothermal …just solar did he? That’s wonderful news. We can start tearing those dams and wind farms down. I always advise people to avoid the Clean Technica website. It’s the go-to place for renewable ideologues seeking to have their beliefs affirmed.

          • onesecond

            “I just wanted to highlight that comment for other readers.”

            Yes, I hope you do and I hope that every reader follows your links. You make a better point of discrediting yourself than anyone ever could. You really didn’t provide anything with substance. You only relied on cheap rhethoric, trying to a insult me all the time with lederhosen nonsense (what do you even mean by that?) while you feel free to talk about German energy police all the time while accusing me of nationalism when I mention anything about the US or how your reasoning skills come across. Your argueing is as dishonest and unfair as it gets and then you go on playing the victim. You more often than not aren’t able to bring any counter arguments, instead you deflect and change the subject. You were the first one to accuse me of being a layman and then you whine on about me telling about my credentials and then you tell me that authority doesn’t matter (to which I agree) and then you state that your authority is bigger anyway. Give me a break. Anyone with a brain who reads our exchange will see for themselves how hard you failed and how dishonest you were.
            Oh and for the other part of your comment, you are only argueing with a long gone state of things that resulted from a time when renewables were a lot more expensive. It is like writing “Oh, I can’t die, because I have never died before!” Yes, that is exactly, what you sound like.

          • …while you feel free to talk about German energy police all the time…

            I’ve never used the word police. Was that a typo and you meant to say policy? The article above the comment field is about German energy policy. You seem to have lost track of the fact that everyone in the comment field is supposed to be commenting on German energy policy.

          • onesecond

            Omg, sorry for the typo. Yeah, discussing German energy policy is fine but beware mentioning other countries for context, I guess.

          • Alastair Leith

            As Ray Kurzweil points out, by 2036 solarPV modules are on trajectory for delivering free energy. :-)

          • …ah yes, the old “too cheap to meter prediction” has come full circle, this time for solar instead of nuclear. Cool. With a free energy source there won’t be a need for hydro, biofuels, or wind! The biodiversity of he world will rest easier. See chart below. The top curve represents the percent of total electrical global energy consumption from nuclear, solar, wind, and hydro from 1985 to 2014. Note that we have been losing ground for decades. Note the curve at the bottom. That’s solar. Not only will it have to climb up to that top curve, but it will have to overcome the loss of nuclear from competition from fossil fuels. And that’s just electrical power consumption. When you try to plot solar against total energy consumption, it looks like a flat line.

          • Alastair Leith

            Thank you Germany for doing just that and subsidising RE technologies. The world owes you big time.

        • Alastair Leith

          RE is not making German energy 3x more expensive. In fact RE is reducing the wholesale price of energy which is starting to bring down domestic bills too.

          There’s a good series of graphs and Q&As here.

          • “It is right that we now need a respite from photovoltaics” –Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany.

            “All told, the subsidies amount to about €24 billion a year” –Germany’s economics ministry.

            “Indeed, the German people are paying significant money …But in Germany, we can afford this — we are a rich country. It’s a gift to the world.”–Markus Steigenberger, analyst for the Agora think tank.

            You guys need to get your stories together.

          • Alastair Leith

            no story. facts. or are you blind as well as obstinate?

          • …no story. facts. or are you blind as well as obstinate?

            …says the pot to the kettle. No story, all facts.

            “It is right that we now need a respite from photovoltaics” –Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany.

            “All told, the subsidies amount to about €24 billion a year” –Germany’s economics ministry.

            “Indeed, the German people are paying significant money …But in Germany, we can afford this — we are a rich country. It’s a gift to the world.”–Markus Steigenberger, analyst for the Agora think tank.

            https://a.disquscdn.com/uploads/mediaembed/images/2107/6388/original.jpg?w=600&h

          • Alastair Leith

            Do you know how to read a graph? the correlation between RE subsidies and retail energy prices?

          • Let’s see ….your graph shows the spot market price was lower roughly five out of the ten years preceding the 2012 price. The surcharge curve has seen a steady climb with a steep increase starting in about 2010. The two curves crossed about three years ago, with all data since then missing.

            The only price that matters to a consumer is the price they pay every month. What the utilities are paying to buy power will be reflected in the consumers bill to keep the utilities solvent. Note that even after the curves crossed, consumers continue to pay more.

            Do you know how to read a graph? By shutting down nuclear instead of coal CO2 emissions reductions have stalled. The graph below is a best fit line from 2009 through 2014. As I stated in my first comment, an irrational fear of nuclear energy overrode concerns about climate change.

      • Bullfrog

        Germany has energiewende to lower CO2 emissions. Spending hundreds of billions on it but German emissions have gone up and up under that program.

        In the US we have the shale gas revolutuon that has lowered CO2 far more than any expensive renewable energy mandate like you have. And it’s helped not only the US economy but also the global economy.

        I’m in favor of renewable energy, especially hydro and geothermal where applicable. But bad energy policy like Germany has only increases global CO2 emissions even though it punishes the use of energy by citizens. That’ policy failure.

        • onesecond

          The CO2 emissions went down under that program. You do know that Germany achieved a much greater CO2 reduction than the US in the last 25 years, right? If you don’t believe me, google it. And please read my other comments in this comment section. I already explained in detail, why CO2 emission could be even much lower right now and why this not happening has nothing to do with the renewable buildout. Fracking on the other hand might even be dangerous for the climate due to methane leakage, where the numbers are highly in doubt. Furthermore it needs a lot of water, while there is not even enough water for farming in the southwest of the US.

  • An irrational fear of nuclear energy overrode concerns about climate change.

    The chart below strongly suggests that the decision to displace nuclear instead of coal with renewables will cause them to miss their stated goal of 40% below 1990 emissions by 2020.

    Picture what that graph would look like if they had displaced coal with renewables and kept all of their nuclear.

    • Bullfrog

      That’s very true. If we were serious about reducing co2 emissions before crossing the 400ppm level (point of no return they said) then we would have built out dispatchable carbon free power immediately instead of waiting on a technology like solar that has taken 30 years to get to 1% of electricity generation and will almost certainly not reach 10% worldwide this century. Too little too late.

      • Jan Veselý

        Ahh, linear thinker. Try to fit exponential trend (doubling every two years) which is closer to the truth and extrapolate. BANG.
        There are just 7 doublings between 1% and 100%. Every doubling reduces cost by about 20%, no new inventions needed, just the hard work in the indutry.
        Sure it will slow down, when it will hits some limitations, but where they are? Silicon is the 2nd most abundant element of the Earth’s crust and there is a lot of sunshine to be harvested.

        • Bullfrog

          SolarPV has been around for at leasrlt a half century. Probably the slowest growing electric source, now up to 0.4% in the US for 2014. Snail pace. I’ve been reading that it will soon take over since the 1970s.

          You should check the EIA projections for 2040 in their most recent report. Or George Washington University Solar Institute. If you’re serious. Or not if you’re just an advocate.

          • Jan Veselý

            EIA projections are having a minor trouble. They are consistently and totally wrong.
            I just need to watch trends. What is happening?
            Coal is hopeless.
            New capacities of wind and solar made 53% of new capacities in the USA in 2014 and growing while getting cheaper in a fast pace.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Oooooooooor rather than being an avocado, Jan is an Australian with rootop solar above his or her head who gets electricity from it at much lower cost than the grid. And possibly someone who is aware that utility scale solar has been bid in at 6.14 US cents in the middle-east which ain’t sunnier than large parts of Australia (or the US). And perhaps Jan is also aware that a recent auction bid in wind at about 5 US cents a kilowatt-hour. Not nearly as good as what it is being built for in the United States, but still much better than the cost of new coal or gas capacity, which is around 9 cents a kilowatt-hour.

        • Ahh, uncritical thinker, see graph below for solar’s contribution to U..S. energy: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-5QCtmwP1SFU/UwqLP3vUFJI/AAAAAAAAA6k/tIvtEV94MNs/s1600/EnergyVerticalChart.JPG

          • Jan Veselý

            https://flowcharts.llnl.gov/content/energy/energy_archive/energy_flow_2013/2013USEnergy.png

            Primary energy consumption is a misguiding metric. Just watch the amount of rejected energy. 6 of every 7 energy units of petroleum are wasted as well as 2/3 of coal and 1/2 natural gas energy. Wind and solar are at about 10% or less level.
            And talking about future, how the electricity future will look seems to be obvious. There are only 3 price competitive and built kinds of power plants in the USA. Natural gas, wind and solar while nautral gas is in constant risk of fuel cost rebalancing to long term normal a.k.a. it will double or triple while wind and solar are only getting cheaper and better with no fuel costs.

          • Understand that I’m not arguing against the use of wind and solar as part of the energy mix. I’m just interjecting a reality check to tone down the gross exaggerations.

            Primary energy consumption is a misguiding metric.

            True, but see the tiny yellow thread coming from solar in your chart? It represents less than a percent of total energy services ( vs 0.32 vs 38.4).

            [natural gas] will double or triple while wind and solar are only getting cheaper and better with no fuel costs.

            I call this the “wind and solar will become too cheap to meter” argument. The cost of wind and solar will soon bottom out, assuming they already haven’t.

            And of course, without natural gas for when the wind isn’t blowing and/or the sun not shining, you could not have solar or wind. And of course, the bigger the percentage of wind and solar, the more gas you need. If you are displacing coal with this wind/solar/gas hybrid then you are reducing emissions. If you replace nuclear with it, you are just making matters worse. The goal is to get rid of coal.

          • Alastair Leith

            high time USA did something about it then, right? like developing nation China is proposing to be 15% RE of its total energy demand by 2020 for electricity generation capacity. and apparently they’re going to hit that target any month now.

            makes you wonder why America is leading from behind?

          • China already gets about 18% of its electricity from hydro alone, so I’m not sure what you mean by RE. See chart below for China’s rapid growth in nuclear energy over the last 20 or so years:

          • Alastair Leith

            You yourself posted a column graph showing how small RE was in total energy generation. 18% of electricity is not the same as 18% of total energy use. Electricity doesn’t include transport fuels, space heating, industrial processes (like smelting).

          • Your English isn’t good enough to carry on a rational debate. This is what you said:

            China is proposing to be 15% RE of its total energy demand by 2020 for electricity generation capacity.

      • Ronald Brakels

        If we became serious about reducing CO2 emissions 30 years ago, say with a world wide $50 a tonne carbon price introduced in 1985, then we’d have a lot more wind and solar capacity than we do now. We already had 2.5 megawatt wind turbines up and running in 1981. I assume we’d have more reactors around 20 years old that would have had ground broken in the mid to late 80s and early 90s, but it wouldn’t take long for new reactor builds to fall off and then stop once wind and solar were clearly beating them on price, which would happen much sooner in this alternate reality than our own.

        • Bullfrog

          Wind and solar not beating on price is the primary reason they are still negligible energy sources on the global scale after all theses decades and all these subsidies. The other reason is dispatchability. Solar and wind are growing in absolute terms but relative to global energy demand and global share of energy production, not.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Hahaha! Solar on the roof above me is far cheaper than grid electricity, new wind capacity is cheaper than new fossil fuel capacity in Australia. And in the US utility scale solar is now competing with gas. The US leads the developed world in wind power and it out competes new fossil fuel generation. In the US 84.1% of all new generating capacity was renewable in the first four months of the year. It will be interesting to see what it will be for the whole of 2015. Anyway, Australia will never build another coal power station because coal simply cannot compete on price and I very much doubt we will ever build another gas power station either.

          • US utility scale solar is now competing with gas.

            Hahaha! Not true, in large part because solar and gas are joined at the hip. In reality, all utility scale solar farms are part of a gas/solar hybrid system. You could not have solar without natural gas to back it up.

          • Ronald Brakels

            So you think that if solar electricity in a region is cheaper than natural gas electricity solar does not compete with gas? This is clearly a strange and unusual use of the word compete of which I was previously unaware. Please give me a clear definition of what you mean by the word compete so I can understand what you have written.

          • Please give me a clear definition of what you mean by the word compete so I can understand what you have written.

            An analogy for the gas/solar/wind hybrid system would be a Prius hybrid. The electricity from the battery does not compete with the gas in the tank. They are part of a hybrid system that together, reduces emissions. Solar has no value unless part of a natural gas system to back it up.

            It’s also misleading to say that solar is cost competitive. How expensive solar is is a function of where you are. It’s three times mores expensive in the Pacific Northwest than in the Southwest.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Thanks for that… intersting analogy there, Russ.

            Now I don’t now what it is like where you are, but here solar generated electricity certainly has value. People will pay money to buy it off you and you can use it to avoid paying for grid electricity. And it has value whether the state has a great deal of natural gas generation such as South Australia, or none such as Tasmania. And it outcompetes fossil fuels because it provides electricity to consumers at a lower cost. Here if you said solar had no value unless part of a natural gas system to back it up you’d be derided as a madman. Fortunately you’re not here.

            The solar panels on the roof here have value to me and they have value despite there being very natural gas only generating a small portion of the electricity in this state. In fact, if you blew up every natural gas power station in Queensland, the value of its rooftop solar capacity would only increase. Isn’t economics funny?

          • disqus_zzz

            “In fact, if you blew up every natural gas power station in Queensland, the value of its rooftop solar capacity would only increase. Isn’t economics funny?”

            What a silly statement to make. Other than fact that is nonsense since it get dark at night and especially in the winter in even in Queensland demand for electricity peak when is dark and cold.

            “People will pay money to buy it off you”

            Because they forced to buy it from you. A good analogy is you growing vegetables in your garden forcing a supermarket to buy it regardless of oversupply and then when they out of season forcing them to sell the same vegetable (but these have being imported for the supermarket) back to you at the same cost they were forced to buy you vegetables for even is this means at a loss.

    • Jan Veselý

      Do you know the cost of commercial insurance for nuclear power plant? No, you don’t because no insurance company would risk it. That’s why every NPP is insured by the state, every citizen pays in case of meltdown. The cost of this externality is somewhere between 0.2 and 2 EUR/kWh. German’s just didn’t want that liability, they never wanted, they have hated since 70’s.

      • Do you know the cost of commercial insurance for nuclear power plant? No, you don’t because no insurance company would risk it.

        All German nuclear power plants are insured by the industry and paid for with a 1.5 penny per kWh (out of a rate of about 37 pennies per kWh) with each operator liable for anything beyond the insured amount of $3.7 billion.

        That’s why every NPP is insured by the state, every citizen pays in case of meltdown.

        That’s called socializing risk. Here in the United States, it is the role of the government to come to the aid of its citizens in the event of a disaster, like it did when the twin towers were struck. It’s what we pay them to do in addition to other things.

        The cost of this externality is somewhere between 0.2 and 2 EUR/kWh.

        You know something is wrong when a study comes up with two answers
        that are literally an order of magnitude different.

        German’s just didn’t want that liability …

        Yet you are happy paying more for your energy than the estimated cost to clean up Fukushima?

        French citizens pay about 17 cents/kWh less than German citizens. Multiply that difference times the electricity used in Germany and you find that Germans are paying about $93 billion a year more than the French. That’s almost twice the estimated cost to clean up Fukushima over the next decade ($500 billion/10 years = $50 billion a year).

        …they never wanted, they have hated since 70’s.

        A 1999 poll showed 81% of Germans wanted existing nuclear
        plants to continue operating.

        • That’s garbage and you know it. Difference is 12c/Wh, but that includes taxes which are included by Germany and not but France, where electricity is subsidised by the government. http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/File:Electricity_prices_for_households_consumers_2014s2.png

          As well, French households use nearly twice as much electricity as German households. http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/average-household-electricity-consumption.

          And the French now face huge rises in electricity prices because they need to spend around $80 billion on safety upgrades for their nuclear fleet.

          • Difference is 12c/Wh

            It’s kWh not Wh. Your source needs to talk to my source, the EIA, which shows ~17 cents difference in 2013. Even at 12 cents difference, Germany is paying more than the cost of the Fukushima clean up ($65 billion per year). I could have picked the difference in the U.S. to Germany and made the numbers even more striking. The same holds for Japan. If they were to bring their nuclear power back on line they would save enough to pay for the Fukushima clean up within a few years. This isn’t about economics. It’s about irrational fear instilled by the false information. It’s happened before.

            …but that includes taxes which are included by Germany and not but France where electricity is subsidised by the government

            To borrow a phrase, “That’s garbage, and you know it.” See graph below from EIA, which includes taxes for both France and Germany. Taxes are paid for renewable energy in Germany.

            From the
            WSJ
            :

            The [German] government passes the subsidy cost on to consumers in a surcharge. While the flood of new energy sources has lowered market prices for electricity, consumer prices have actually increased as the surcharge has risen to make up the difference between the market and government-guaranteed prices. On the spot market, a kilowatt-hour of electricity costs 3.2 cents, half what it did in 2011. The average guaranteed price under the government’s price fixing regime is 17 cents. The renewable energy surcharge levied on German households and businesses has nearly tripled since 2010 and now accounts for about 18% of a German household’s electric bill. All told, the subsidies amount to about €24 billion a year, according to Germany’s economics ministry.

            And this from ,Markus Steigenberger, an analyst at Agora, a think tank:

            “Indeed,the German people are paying significant money. But in Germany, we can afford this — we are a rich country. It’s a gift to the world.”

            You continue:

            As well, French households use nearly twice as much electricity as German households.

            Which is not only irrelevant but has no impact on my calculation. Nuclear energy is why the French carbon footprint is so much lower than the German. With electricity prices so low, they use it for heating instead of fossil fuels. Not very economical to use electricity for heating in Germany. Even in the states we tend to use natural gas or even heating oil over electricity to reduce heating costs. Every credible study shows nuclear has to be part of the global mix. If Germany manages to shed nuclear, which looks unlikely, by sucking renewable energy from its neighbors, it is irrelevant. The model won’t scale to the rest of the world.

            And the French now face huge rises in electricity prices because they need to spend around $80 billion on safety upgrades for their nuclear fleet.

            Dividing $80 billion by units of energy produced, say, five years
            to implement and you get about three cents per kWh. Big whoop.

          • Matthew Wright

            As pointed out previously. Each US customer uses twice as much electricity and they generally use a lot of gas and other heating fuels on top of that. US residential households consume a hell of a lot more energy than German households. And they pay more than German households for energy each year.

          • I’m not sure what your point is. I’m not defending U.S. energy consumption rates. Energy efficiency is a good idea regardless of energy source. I was responding to the claim that Germany is ending nuclear to avoid a potential cost penalty as a result of a large nuclear incident.

          • Alastair Leith

            You avoided the point that your claim that nuclear plants are insured is rubbish. Yes in USA and some other countries some amount of private industry cover is provided by industry wide insurance schemes but they are capped pretty low and would never cover a Chernobyl or Fukushima scale accident.

            Gorbachov wrote in his memoirs that the Chernobyl costs were so great they broke the back of the USSR’s cold war effort, already over-extended in the prolonged Afghanistan conflict. Japan is facing similar pain and economic hardship from the disaster.

          • You avoided the point that your claim that nuclear plants are insured is rubbish.

            Your sentence is not grammatically correct. I don’t know what you are trying to say. All nuclear plants are insured. Were you trying to communicate some other point? In any case, I didn’t avoid anything. See the following links for the responses I gave about insurance costs:

            http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/nuclear-isnt-the-only-energy-phase-out-happening-in-germany-24135#comment-2055554711

            http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/nuclear-isnt-the-only-energy-phase-out-happening-in-germany-24135#comment-2055675167

          • Alastair Leith

            Is English your first language? That might not have been pretty English, but it is close to correct.

            Anyhow, nuclear power plants are only insured to damages of a very minor indecent in USA, same for many other places. It’s implicit government ownership of risk. The caps in USA insurance policies would never cover a Fukushima or Chernobyl scale incident. In Japan and USSR the accidents have had catastrophic economic impacts and no private insurer was there to help out in either case. You just can’t buy that kind of insurance on the open market.

            Your response of “that’s what governments are supposed to do” is ridiculous. Are they there to subsidies any other industry that way, well yes they do subsidies Fossil Fuels to that extent also but that is also wrong and immoral because they don’t actually fix people up who get sick they just prolong life in my cases the mortality still occurs due to PM, SOx and NOx etc.

          • Anyhow, nuclear power plants are only insured to damages of a very minor indecent in USA, same for many other places.

            Not true. They all carry very significant insurance coverage.

            It’s implicit government ownership of risk. The caps in USA insurance policies would never cover a Fukushima or Chernobyl scale incident. Your response of “that’s what governments are supposed to do” is ridiculous. Are they there to subsidies any other industry that way…

            Wasn’t so ridiculous when the insurance for our airlines didn’t cover the economic impact of the twin tower disaster. It isn’t possible to cover all industries for all possible scenarios. Our government stepped in and covered the airlines who couldn’t fly and earn income for some time afterwards. The government steps in all the time for things like hurricanes, tornadoes, even a volcano once.

            Because there are no more Chernobyl style power plants (containment dome free reactors hastily built to maximize weapons production to close or maintain a perceived missile gap) you can’t have another Chernobyl style disaster.

            In Japan and USSR the accidents have had catastrophic economic impacts and no private insurer was there to help out in either case. You just can’t buy that kind of insurance on the open market.

            The catastrophe was the mag 9.0 quake and tsunami that killed roughly 20,000 people. The Fukushima reactor was just another piece of infrastructure destroyed by that act of God. It didn’t kill anyone. So, if your definition of catastrophe is death and injury, Fukushima wasn’t a catastrophe.

            If your definition of catastrophe is great expense, then the energiewende is a catastrophe because it’s cost to German citizens would pay for clean up of Fukushima in less than five years $105 / 24 = 4.4.

            If your definition is displacement, then compare the 84,000 living in temporary government housing in Japan to the 50 million living in refugee camps across the planet, or even the millions of people who have to move their families every year to keep a job and on and on.

            Fukushima isn’t the disaster the media and anti-nuclear activists want/need it to be. It’s an expensive mess caused by a gargantuan tsunami.

            Fossil Fuels to that extent also but that is also wrong and immoral because they don’t actually fix people up who get sick they just prolong life in my cases the mortality still occurs due to PM, SOx and NOx etc.

            True, which begs the question, why would Germany displace nuclear instead of coal?

  • Ian

    You Germans may have won the energiewende but the Norwegians have beaten the umlaut off your O’s with their Electric Vehicles!

  • JRT256

    Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics. This appears to be a typical tactic of going back farther in time to try to refute something that is true. It is the period since 2009 or 2010 that is under discussion and German coal use has been increasing as a percent of its power generation although it is true that there has been some drop in domestic demand for power since 2010. The fact remains that due to the phase out of nuclear power and the reduction of the use of natural gas, that Germany continues to use coal to generate a high percentage of its electric power..