Friday, May 20, 2005

Wind vs. Nuclear in Germany

Germany plans to phase out all 19 of its nuclear power plants by 2020. This article by Stefan Dietrich in the online version of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung examines the critical question

How will a continuous supply of energy be secured once all of the nuclear plants are out of service?
As part of the energy solution, Germany plans to double its wind generating capacity. Dietrich finds much fault with this line of thinking and this is the first article I've seen that attempts to quantify some of the costs of directly replacing nuclear with wind.

One problem, of course, is wind's abysmal capacity factors. Deitrich writes
On paper, at least, the ”generating capacity” of 36,000 megawatts would make up for the lost production from the nuclear plants. But, in reality, one can expect only a fixed increase of 2,200 megawatts, according to a report by the German Energy Agency. Wind is just too unreliable. Ninety-four percent of the energy supply would have to be covered some other way. Solar power will be able to make only a symbolic contribution. A substitute for nuclear energy is supposed to come from natural-gas power plants. But they produce carbon dioxide.
Since Germany plans to install much of these wind turbines at sea, another issue is the cost of building the transmission system:
We will soon need 850 kilometers (528 miles) of new power lines, projected to cost about €1.1 billion ($1.4 billion). In northern Germany, people are already calling for subterranean lines, which would increase the price by at least eight times. Investments in the high double-digit billions will be devoured by the wind farms at sea and the necessary sea cables
Dietrich goes on to point out the incongruity of environmentalists advocating the use of the technology that kills wildlife as a matter of course and closes with a call for a "new generation" to awaken.

Thanks to Jim Muckerheide for pointing me to this article!

3 comments:

nadero said...

"Environmental Minister Jürgen Trittin is betting on global market prices for fossil fuels to finally reach the level that the Greens wanted it to attain back in the 1990s: DM5 per liter of gasoline."

Please, what is "DM5 per liter of gasoline"?
Thanks

Eric McErlain said...

5 deutsche marks.

Anonymous said...

Interesting election results this week in Germany ... the Christian Democrats have been openly pro-nuclear and look to have a legitimate shot at regaining power now.