Thursday, May 31, 2012

Energy Change Plans in Germany

Germany passed a plan last year to shut down all nuclear plants by 2022.  Not that Germany had built a new plant in many years; like the U.S. the nuclear plants are older.  There has been a strong anti-nuclear movement in Germany since Chernobyl.  But, plans for the change are behind schedule. Part of the reason may be that the euro crisis has consumed so much time of the government leaders.

The plans include a much greater reliance on renewable energy. The goal is 50% of energy produced by renewable sources by 2030.  This is mostly wind power generated mostly by turbines in the North Sea.  But much of industry is in the southern part of Germany so a new network of power lines are needed.  This will requires an investment of $25 billion over the next decade.  This process has been slowed by paperwork and regulations in the various German states.  Also, farmers are demanding more money for the land taken for the power lines. As a spokesman for the German Farmers Federation notes--land is limited.

For those who are concerned about global climate change, nuclear power is a good option to replace coal plants, but the Green Party in Germany is also very anti nuclear.  But relying so heavily on wind power presents problems too.  Since electricity cannot be stored, what happens when the wnds are down?  Another problem is that there is power loss as the electricity flows through power lines, so the further the power has to travel, the greater the loss.

After the earthquake and tsunami in Japan hit last year, Warrren Buffet said that many died in the tsunami and few will die from the troubles at the nuclear power plants. But, people will still build homes on the coast but nucelar power will be killed.  At the time I heard him say this, I thought he was right. I still do.

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