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Germany: Back to the future
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  • I don't think anyone is disputing you here on the use of coal, just your implied criticism of shutting down nuclear because of coal. The difference is also that coal impact is felt immediately while nuclear impact remains a threat for three hundred thousand years. This threat has far reaching consequences on the structure of society almost like a mortgage or debt for which none of us will live long enough to assume any kind of responsibility. But it seems that energy policy carries some fascination for you as a destabilizing force. So perhaps you are not looking for policies that might improve things.

  • The difference is also that coal impact is felt immediately while nuclear impact remains a threat for three hundred thousand years. This threat has far reaching consequences on the structure of society almost like a mortgage or debt for which none of us will live long enough to assume any kind of responsibility. But it seems that energy policy carries some fascination for you as a destabilizing force. So perhaps you are not looking for policies that might improve things.

    You understand radioactivity concept, right? As I am not sure in it from the words.

    Threat with "three hundred thousand years" half life is not really big threat as it has very low radiation levels.

    May be we also could talk about waste made from "gree energy" production. Starting from materials stage, to chemicals waste, etc.

  • I actually don't think radioactivity is a concept. But I posted a presentation and paper for you when you asked for specific scientific calculations. At one point they talk about the "concept" that was the Yucca Mountain storage facility. Unfortunately it was only possible to certify Yucca Mountain storage for ten thousand years as stable storage, conceptually of course, because really not many structures are still around today that are ten thousand years old. This is why Yucca Mountain as a concept for storing nuclear waste was abandoned and no replacement has been proposed or seriously considered as a concept for doing so. But really the presentation and paper do not dwell on the impossibility to certify nuclear as responsible or coal as clean, but really are a positive assessment on how energy policy can move to 100% renewables TODAY without change in projections based on lifestyle, although conservation will help greatly and is encouraged by the authors.

  • This is why Yucca Mountain as a concept for storing nuclear waste was abandoned and no replacement has been proposed or seriously considered as a concept for doing so. But really the presentation and paper do not dwell on the impossibility to certify nuclear as responsible or coal as clean, but really are a positive assessment on how energy policy can move to 100% renewables TODAY without change in projections based on lifestyle, although conservation will help greatly and is encouraged by the authors.

    And what to do with all "radioactive waste" produced by nature?

    I really like green fairy tales, really do. But how about do something with hundrends of millions who do not anything to eat first, how about providing them ANY energy source?

  • Ok. Perhaps lifestyle was a bad choice of words on my part because of the Western first world connotation. What the author did was take global energy consumption projections as they stand now and made calculations to meet those same consumptions growth projections with renewables in order to show that the source of the energy does not necessarily need to impact consumption growth but can meet it 100%. It is using present technology to change energy policy. He does show that energy consumption will go down because for example, electric cars are more efficient. But growth projections of miles moved by cars remains the same, etc. At one point he says that you may keep your Edison incandescent light bulb (although your next car will need to be Tesla electric car ;-) but putting in LED bulb will be help and he encourages that. It is actually a very humble presentation.

  • @posit

    This presentation is just big fairy tale. My view on all this green energy stuff is quite opposite to yours.
    It is sad to understand bleak future of electric cars.

  • Last time I checked bright fun future of gasoline powered cars can not run on either coal or nuclear.

  • Hypocrisy is a driving force of the politics, and the decision to return to the fossil burning power plants in Germany is a clear example of it.

    Considering the "pollution" and "environmental impact", coal is the worst polluter of common energy production facilities. Pure carbon produces carbon dioxide (CO2), which is one of the chief greenhouse gases responsible. Capturing CO2 is not a solution, as it dramatically reduces power-plant efficiency and increases water usage. Soot from burning low grade coal is what formed the infamous killer fogs of London (UK), and Pittsburgh (USA). Coal also contains some sulfur which leads to acid rain. Coal also has absorbed radon gas, so the burning releases radioactivity. Coal power plants consume and pollute more water than even nuclear power plants. Coal mining and transporting are among the worst gross pollutions.

    Nuclear energy is not perfect, but if handled properly is much more environment friendly.

  • Ok. I dropped the quote that launched this discussion in to Google and up popped an article that is actually LAUDING the German effort for more coal because they do NO sequestration while the UK is requiring it and therefore cannot get companies to build these theoretical new coal plants:

    http://bit.ly/17tf8eP

    They reference a PDF file which is in Google Cache here:

    http://bit.ly/15Rmzt1

    But in the comments one person writes:

    "Interestingly some 20 plants have been abandoned and 6 put on hold and some have closed since 2007. Looks more like a dash from coal if you ask me. http://www.duh.de/uploads/media/New_coal_plants_Germany_2012_DUH.pdf"

    Short link to that PDF: http://bit.ly/15RmPrO

    This of course all pales to what is being built on coal plants in China. But that is probably another discussion. Interesting though that the source of that quote is a Briton COMPLAINING that the regulatory environment is too tough to build coal plants in the UK and thereby will freeze their elderly to death while Germany is having an easy time of it, but that it is used HERE to show that Germany is getting ready to poison its citizens because of an acute shortage of uranium.

    Depending on what sticks, buy you commodity futures now! ;-)

    Wind and solar are of course just one time investment costs that is why it is hard to speculate on them, either for money or to stoke future fears of massive shortages and catastrophe.

  • Something already done with solar technology in a very unsuitable place:

    http://www.swissworld.org/en/switzerland/swiss_specials/green_technology/monterosa/

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  • I'm a big fan of Nuclear as well, and not entirely sure why we don't shoot the waste into Space, perhaps at the Sun or an already hostile or radioactive planet.

  • not entirely sure why we don't shoot the waste into Space, perhaps at the Sun or an already hostile or radioactive planet.

    LOL :-) Check how much energy is required to shoot something into space :-) And that percentage of it will fall back during process :-)

  • Papalapap - is getting out of nuclear energy and remains bullshit, as long as not all participate. Germany is surrounded by nations that use Kernergie

  • I think China is about to start to build some 45 new nuclear plants right now.

  • As long as opponents of nuclear energy per se refuse any dialogue at all with that industry, [sort of in a Marxist way, as in "let the system collapse under its own weight; then we'll build our revolution out of the ruins.." ] ,..

    as I say, if there's no accountability and dialogue with all stake holders then we are practically handing the energy industry a blank cheque to do anything they like, unsupervised.

    And what they'll do, if left to their own means, is the cheapest. -The cheapest reactors, cheapest waste disposal, cheapest security measures to ensure no depleted uranium gets into the wrong hands, and so on.

    And research into safe, new nuclear technology? Forget that.

    When did we last see news results of some innovation in nuclear power generation? I cannot remember ever seeing such a thing. And we should.

  • To create a fusion reactor would be without doubt one of the most sensational achievements of the technological development.... if it really will be possible to control such a mighty power. I doubt it will happen to come.

  • So now there is a case for rest of the countries to slap Germany with a carbon tax?

    Tit for tat :-)

  • A scientist on the radio today was saying how ridiculously cheap coal is: he likened it to cheap stuff you can just start a fire with and just use that heat to do whatever you need. Sort of like a gift to the industrial revolution.

    We haven't come very far, have we?? One little hint of a financial crisis and it's out the window with everything we've learned since the 18th century, and back with good ol', cheap & dirty, coal.

  • @Walker

    Nuclear stuff have their own issues, I already mentioned problems with U-235.

    Fast reactors that could use U-238 and Thorium have their own issues and are not ready yet for normal, mass produced, operation.

  • @tetakpatak

    a fusion reactor would be without doubt one of the most sensational achievements

    Now, isn't that a nice dream? I think a lot of us are secretly betting the farm on something as good as nuclear fusion coming along to get us all out of this nightmare of a mess.

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev

    Nuclear stuff have their own issues

    I understand that.

  • @Walker I belive creating of Perpetuum mobile is more likely to come than bringing nuclear fusion under control.

  • There is no free lunch with any of the known solutions. Given the thirst for energy worldwide and the population growth, we are going to need all of the solutions. But in today's polarized viewpoints, it is near impossible to engage in a sensible strategic debate on what that energy future will be and what compromises are we all willing to live with.

  • http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-05-27/the-environment-quarter/4715526

    (Video) -from ABC's Environment Quarter, broadcast last night.

    -see the lead item on on China's coal use, (starts 50 sec in)

    China has released details of its pilot carbon credit trading scheme in Chenghien Province ..in June it will cover more than 600 industrial and construction companies.

    North west China is a source is a source of cheap and plentiful coal.But ..it imports even more of it from Australia.

    China consumes nearly half of the world's supply, and if were not for an enormous rollout of renewble energies like wind power, it would be consuming even more.

    According to new research from Peking University in [3 cities] alone, 8,500 people are said to die every year as a direct result of air pollution.Right across China, some estimates put annual deaths at more than a million.

    Part of [volunteer coal use educator, Chi au Ping]'s strategy is to get people to stop burning raw coal for cooking and heating in favour of processed coal - and burn less of it.

  • There certainly is no political party in Germany that proposes to increase the percentage of fossil fuel power, (few) new fossil power plants are build by private investors because there is a forseeable time window in which they will likely generate a nice return on investment, but there is a broad political consensus to actually lower the percentage of fossil fuel used for electricity production in Germany.

    The one reason why some people still consider nuclear power cheap is because nuclear power plants are allowed to burden significant parts of their operational costs on the tax payer. When a village has to be relocated because of coal surface-mining, of course the mining company will have to pay for the whole relocation. In constrast, when a nuclear power plants blows up, the public pays for all the land that becomes uninhabitable.

    When a fossil fuel power plant produces toxic waste, the company running the plant has to pay for its adequate disposal - while the already immense and yet unknown costs of storing nuclear waste safely for millenia are burdened on the future population.

    Insurance companies are about the only experts when it comes to calculate reasonably with long-term risks, and if there was any chance to sell insurances for the risks of nuclear power plants, they would certainly do. But the insurance fees would be too high for any nuclear power plant to run profitably, so there is no such market, and no such offering.

    And btw.: Nuclear fusion power, while of course interesting in a number of ways, also requires a plan on how to handle nuclear waste, albeit on a smaller scale: No known enclosure material will withstand the huge radioactive radiation from a nuclear fusion for a long time, so the enclosure material will need to be exchanged more or less frequently - and the unmounted material will be highly radioactive due to its prolonged exposure to intensive radiation.