Skip to main content

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!


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"?
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.

Popular posts from this blog

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.


The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.

What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…