Thursday, October 08, 2009

Angst in Germany, Full Steam Ahead in UAE

aboutus In the annals of bad arguments, this is one of our favorites:

Germany's newly elected government could hinder the expansion of renewable energy in the country with its plans to extend the lifetime of nuclear reactors, warns the German Renewable Energy Federation.

Well, yes, it could do that, but we rather suspect Germany, like the United States, will look at the broad range of solutions and start implementing them. Germany’s nuclear plants may well be joined by wind farms, solar panel parks (well, maybe – Germany may not be the right territory for solar energy) and even additional nuclear units.

There’s more:

“A lifetime extension of the nuclear plants would slow, if not completely halt, the expansion of renewable energy in Germany,” said BEE spokesman Daniel Kluge. “There’s a simple reason for this: We have more and more renewable energy companies generating and delivering more and more electricity. So letting nuclear reactors stay on the grid longer will only lead to congestion, with too many companies generating too much electricity.” Kluge and others in the industry worry that renewable energy upstarts could be the ones bumped aside.

We’ll let you have this one. This feels more panicky than practical. After the impact of the election settles in, we suspect Mr. Kluge will work this out more fully.

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As you may know, the United Arab Emirates has a treaty pending in the U.S. Congress that would allow nuclear trade to flow to and from that country. (UAE is a conglomeration of 7 emirates – a bit more like the EU in structure than the USA – but most have tiny populations and a lot of desert territory – you’ll usually hear about Abu Dhabi and Dubai when you hear about UAE). Congress may not do anything, which allows the treaty to gain force at the end of October or may object to it. A bit of skittishness seems to be the most controversy that this treaty has generated so far.

Anyway, UAE is steaming right ahead:

Federal Law No. 6, which was issued by U.A.E. President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, establishes the independent Federal Authority of Nuclear Regulation to oversee the country's nuclear energy sector, and appoints the regulator's board.

It also reiterates the U.A.E.'s pledge not to domestically enrich uranium as part of its plans to build nuclear power plants, the first of which is slated for commercial operation in 2017. The law makes it illegal to develop, construct or operate uranium enrichment or spent fuel processing facilities within the country's borders.

That’s pretty good. More, please.

It also brings into effect parts of the nuclear-energy program outlined in a policy paper in April 2008, in which the U.A.E. outlined its interest in building nuclear power plants to meet soaring electricity demand and pledged to adopt all required international agreements for a peaceful nuclear energy program.

The policy paper outlined six points on operational transparency, commitment to nonproliferation, safety and security standards, cooperation with the IAEA, cooperation with international governments and organizations, and long-term sustainability.

So far, the UAE hasn’t set a foot wrong. It wants nuclear energy, it wants to do it in an internationally accepted way, it wants to partner with the United States. So far, so good.

UAE, especially Dubai, certainly doesn’t lack for interesting buildings. Must be an architect’s dream destination.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

"solar panel parks (well, maybe – Germany may not be the right territory for solar energy)"

Check out uvdiv's lastest posting at The Capacity Factor. Germany's already spending huge sums on its solar power hopes.

David Bradish said...

Here's the link from uvdiv's post on solar's subsidies in Germany.

Stewart Peterson said...

The nuclear industry is the first one I've ever seen to react to a jurisdiction banning some of its products by saying "that's pretty good."

Do y'all care about your future?

Anonymous said...

Having both nuclear energy and renewables might create congestion????

Don't the German Greens remember that they have a huge amount of coal generation that could be shut down to relieve this "congestion"?

The sad thing in watching Germany is knowing that 30 years ago they were a dynamic, creative, technologically sophisticated nation. Today, there is little connection between their policies and physical realities.

perdajz said...

Yes, once again, someone argues that nuclear power is bad because, get this, it makes too much electricity.

D Kosloff said...

perdajz,

That sentiment is old news.
From Rod Adams website:
We find Stanford professor Paul Ehrlich, an antinuclear environmental spokesman, stating: "In fact, giving society cheap abundant energy at this point would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun." Amory Lovins of Friends of the Earth puts it this way: "If you ask me, it'd be a little short of disasterous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it. We ought to be looking for energy sources that are adequate for our needs, but that won't give us the excesses of concentrated energy with which we could do mischief to the earth or to each other." (Kaku, p. 242)

Anonymous said...

You're right, D K, and it is exactly this smug self-righteous air of superiority these jackasses project that makes me sick. People are starving and others are scratching in the dirt to survive, while these guys opine from the comfort of their luxo-log cabins...

Anonymous said...

An "idiot child" is it? Geez, well, based on the vicious, intolerant, elitist, hateful language used, I'd have to guess this was a quote from a liberal.

D Kosloff said...

Bingo. But not all liberals agree.

Ken said...

Information I could find indicates that in 2008, Germany generated 57% of it's electricity from carbon based sources (coal, natural gas) compared to 6.5% by wind and less than 1% for solar. And nuclear is the problem???

George Carty said...

Ehrlich and Lovins should be put on trial for crimes against humanity.

TJ Morton said...

If I understand Anonymous #4 correctly, all "vicious, intolerant, elitist, hateful language" comes from liberals? I'm sorry, but have you listened to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, et al.? Your statement is insulting to a great many liberals. It IS possible to combine liberal thoughts and ideas with a common sense attitude toward energy and economic policy!
As an American expatriate living in Germany, working in the nuclear industry, I am interested to see how things shake out over the next couple of years, as are a great many of my colleagues.

Anonymous said...

Dates for the Ehrlich and Lovins quotes, please? I expect they're from the early 1970s.

A lot of things were said during the energy-environment-population debates of the 1960s and 1970s that do not represent the authors's current positions.

Many on this board gets all worked up when someone mentions "too cheap to meter" as if it somehow represents the industry's current position. Play fair with outdated quotes from your opponents too!

Anonymous said...

"Ehrlich and Lovins should be put on trial for crimes against humanity."

They should be put on trial for what they THINK and SAY? In the United States?

1984, anyone? this is the definition of "thought crime"

Brian Mays said...

Actually, those two quotes were from the late seventies (1977 and 1978), but then again, that was precisely Kosloff's point, if I understand it correctly: people who complain that nuclear power provides too much energy have been saying this for quite a long time.

As for the quotes being out of date, well, they're old, but I don't think that Ehrlich and Lovins have changed their tune too much in the past three decades. Lovins is still promoting distributed power (wind, solar, and cogeneration) over the "excesses of concentrated energy" (nuclear power). Meanwhile, Erhlich wrote the following in The Dominant Animal, a book that he published only last year:

"Some people have thought that cheap, abundant energy would be a solution to many of humanity's problems. That goal is unlikely to be reached, and it should be remembered that abundant energy is no panacea for the world's ills. A bulldozer run on hydrogen produced from a wind farm can still decimate a tropical rain forest."

Apparently, the "idiot child" now has a bulldozer to play with.

Brian Mays said...

I should add that the problem with "too cheap to meter" is not that it is out of date. The problem is that it never represented the industry's position.

Anonymous said...

The Ehrlich quote you found from last year is a far cry from the two earlier quotes that have posters calling for Ehrlich and Lovins to be imprisoned for their beliefs. saying cheap abundant energy is "no panacea" for the world's ills is hardly hate speech.

Anonymous said...

No, the point is that IF these authors are STILL saying things like that, you should be able to find quotes to that effect more recent than 1978.

In 1978 the nuclear industry was still saying we'd have 1,000 LWRs in the US by the year 2000, and of course they don't stand by that now.

D Kosloff said...

Brian,

But the quote did show up in a small article on page 16 of the New York Times. That was where the NYT used to put all of the big news of the day. Also, for residential use, electricity was actually too cheap to meter in many cases for many years. Before OPEC, many apartment buildings included "heat and light" in the monthly rent, with no metering of natural gas or electricity. In 1969, I lived in an apartment in Portland, Oregon that had an electric cooking stove. The apartment building owner did meter the electricity and my highest monthly bill was thirty-five cents. Installing individual apartment electricity meters was one of the conservation measures introduced during the "energy crisis" of the 1970s. But electricity is still not metered in the apartment building in which I now live, near Cleveland.

Brian Mays said...

Anonymous - I never expressed the opinion that Ehrlich's or Lovins's words constitute hate speech. As for Ehrlich's quote from last year, well, the tasteless analogy might missing, but the message is still the same: mankind cannot be trusted with too much energy, because we will use it to destroy the environment. Ehrlich clearly has not changed his mind when it comes to this.

DK - I'm aware that some places have had and still have "unmetered" access to electricity. I've lived in apartments that had unmetered natural gas for heating. Most people in the US today have internet access that is "too cheap to meter." The idea is not as strange as it first sounds.

My point, however, is that the nuclear industry never claimed this. The "too cheap to meter" phrase came from a speech by the chairman of the AEC, Lewis Strauss, which also included such futuristic visions as ending famine, eliminating disease, conquering old age, and ushering in an "age of peace," all in the same breath.

Did the nuclear industry promise in 1954 to end all famine, cure all disease, and prevent all war too? Of course not, so why should the industry be tagged with the "too cheap to meter" nonsense either.

Historically, the nuclear industry was not worried about generating electricity that is "too cheap to meter"; its challenge was generating electricity that was cheap enough to compete with coal. Also, in the early days, there was a serious concern that fission would soon become obsolete (long before the first commercial nuclear power plants would wear out), because new developments in fusion would result in technology that would price it out of the market.

Of course, that never happened.

Anonymous said...

I still think you're stretching that most recent Ehrlich quote beyond its breaking point to say what you want it to say. Claiming that cheap, abundant energy is "no panacea" to the world's problems is hardly saying cheap, abundant energy will destroy the world, which is what you're claiming Ehrlich said back in the 1970s.

Hardly enough to warrant his being brought before an international tribunal, as has been suggested here.

perdajz said...

Some people just wanted to live a simpler life style that doesn't include consumption of electricity. For some, this is a religious belief. I'm OK with that. Just leave me out.

But then there's Lovins. Lovins consumes all he wants, but thinks that for the rest of us, cheap energy is a bad idea. Lovin's house is opulent and extravagant by any measure. He spared no expense on lavish exotic plants and fish, and all the latest renewable gadgets that the rest of could never hope to afford. He has a 4000 sq ft. home high atop the Rockies, but no children.

The other type of hypocrite is the renewable power fan who thinks that solar and wind power can displace fossil fuels, but protests loudly about nuclear power crowding out his/her pet projects. I'm always glad to hear this kind of hypocrisy. It's just a tacit admission that there is no need for wind or solar power if you can build nuclear power plants.

Anonymous said...

"If I understand Anonymous #4 correctly, all "vicious, intolerant, elitist, hateful language" comes from liberals? I'm sorry, but have you listened to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, et al.? Your statement is insulting to a great many liberals."

Oh, please, spare me the ersatz outrage. I have been called things by liberals that make words like "vicious" and "hateful" seem like hugs and kisses. Nobody gets outraged when I am insulted by much worse language. In fact, I've been told by those very same liberals that "I deserve it" for no other reason than I disagree with them on a political issue.

Anonymous said...

"I have been called things by liberals that make words like "vicious" and "hateful" seem like hugs and kisses."

Ever had a liberal launch a Facebook poll on whether or not you should be assassinated?

Anonymous said...

Now the nuke police are telling others what kind of houses they can have? Don't worry, all that will be taken away from Lovins when he's arrested for opposing nuclear power, as has been proposed here.

Anonymous said...

"Ever had a liberal launch a Facebook poll on whether or not you should be assassinated?"

No, something worse. I've had them say to my face that I should be killed. When I asked why, they said it was "Because. I deserved it." I reported the threat to the authorities and the local media, and neither one did anything. Guess they agreed with the threat.

Anonymous said...

So you ran into one psycho with a big mouth and extrapolated him/her to all liberals? that's sensible.

Anonymous said...

No, more than that. It seems to be a pattern with these people, a predictable and somewhat general characteristic. Be mean, vicious, hateful and intolerant, and if that isn't enough, threaten mortal harm.

Anonymous said...

"Be mean, vicious, hateful and intolerant, and if that isn't enough, threaten mortal harm."

that's exactly what the fringe right is doing with President Obama and anyone who supports him. There are extremists of every persuasion. I'm at least willing to recognize that not all on the right act this way; you tar all "liberals" with one brush.

Anonymous said...

Oh, man, is that the best you can do, an "I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I" response? Lame, lame, lame. Cripes, I left that kind of stuff behind on the kindergarten playground.

You can complain all you want to about Beck, Limbaugh, "fringe right", whatever. All I know is that the only people who have threatened me with mortal harm have been leftists. And the only reason they did that was because I disagreed with them on a political issue or matter of public policy. That and (rhetorically) destroy them in debates using nothing more than facts, reason, and logic. I guess they couldn't deal with that in a rational way.

TJ Morton said...

This comment stream has degenerated quite a bit.
As for my 'ersatz' outrage...well, who are you to know whether or not my outrage was somehow inferior to yours. I do get annoyed by the broad brush strokes some like to use to paint others. Liberals certainly don't have the market cornered on vicious and intolerant remarks. It seems that, unfortunately, those are the voices that are heard. I am sorry that some lunatic told you that you deserved to be dead, but I am certain that there are some equally idiotic conservatives out there posting polls on Facebook about whether or not our President deserves to be assassinated.
That being said, perhaps we can return to the topic and get out of the useless debate about whose vitriol is worse.

perdajz said...

I knew someone would accuse of trying to dictate what kind of house Lovins should live in. That's not the point. I don't care how Lovins' wants to spend his money. All I ask is that he return the favor.

He's a hypocrite. Cheap energy is the key to more and better goods and services. Cheap energy makes makes many things possible, including large homes. Lovins says it's bad for you, but OK for him.