Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.

Settings

Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup

Settings


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Donate

Twitter Facebook YouTube Pinterest

RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe


Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...



Username
Password
Keep me logged in
New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts

Archives

German Energy Priorities

Posted on 4 July 2011 by dana1981, BaerbelW

In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, Germany has decided to phase-out its nuclear power plants by 2022.  Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that Germany would need to replace a substantial amount of this phased-out energy with coal and natural gas power plants.

"If we want to exit nuclear energy and enter renewable energy, for the transition time we need fossil power plants. At least 10, more likely 20 gigawatts [of fossil capacity] need to be built in the coming 10 years."

However, phasing out its nuclear power plants was first planned by Chancellor Schroeder in 2000.  In 2010, amid much uproar among the German public, their government announced a plan to prolong the lifespan of most nuclear reactors by many years.  Chancellor Merkel's recent announcement is therefore a return to the previous German plan.

Chancellor Merkel also said that Germany would still attempt to meet its aggressive target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2020 despite the phaseout of its nuclear plants.  Although such a substantial emissions cut may sound infeasible while phasing out and replacing nuclear power plants, the previous German climate plan – which included phase-out of nuclear power – had also set a goal of 40% emissions cuts below 1990 levels.

Currently Germany produces 44% of its electric power from coal, 23% from nuclear, 13% from natural gas, 6.5% from wind, 5.5% from biomass, 3.3% from hydroelectric, and 2% from solar photovoltaic.  As of 2010, renewable energy sources (including hydroelectric) accounted for nearly 17% of German electricity generation, which is nothing to sneeze at (in comparison, it's currently approximately 10% in the USA).  Germany intends to more than double that figure to 35% by 2020.

Thus the good news is that Germany plans to replace most of its phased-out nuclear power with renewable energy.  This is a plausible plan, as there have been several studies proposing pathways for Germany to meet 100% of its energy needs from renewable sources within a few decades.  Additionally, because many of the coal power plants are becoming old and require replacement anyway, even with the nuclear power phase-out, Germany planned to decrease coal production from 51.1 gigawatts (GW) in 2010 to 42.9 GW in 2020.

The bad news is that according to Chancellor Merkel, 10–20 GW of new fossil fuel power plants need to be built in order to facilitate the nuclear phase-out.  If the nuclear power plant lifetimes were extended as briefly planned in 2010, the retiring fossil fuel plants could more easily be replaced by renewable energy sources, followed by a replacement of the nuclear plants with renewables as well.  New power plants have lifespans of many decades, so building 10–20 GW of new fossil fuel power will commit Germany to their associated emissions for a long time to come.

Ultimately it's a problem of priorities.  There has long been an anti-nuclear sentiment amongst the German public, which was amplified by the Fukushima disaster.  However, the public health risk associated with coal power is several times larger than that from nuclear power (Ren et al 1998), and the CO2 emissions associated with nuclear power are approximately 7 times lower than natural gas and 15 times lower than coal (Sovacool 2008).

Thus from a logical and scientific standpoint, Germany should first phase-out the use of more dangerous and environmentally damaging fossil fuels before pursuing a phase-out of nuclear power.  Unfortunately the German public has its priorities backwards, phasing-out the energy source which poses less of a threat to both public health and the global climate. 

It's also worth noting that according to the German Advisory Council on the Environment, there are scenarios in which Germany could phase-out the use of coal and nuclear power simultaneously, replacing them with renewable energy.  Perhaps Germany can pursue these plans, rather than building the 10-20 gigawatts of additional fossil fuel power Merkel believes is necessary.

If not, we can only hope Germany straightens out its priorities, or they will find it difficult to meet their commendable greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets.  Then again, Germany is already way ahead of the emissions reductions game when compared to many other developed countries like the USA, Australia, and Canada, for example.  In fact, Germany has the benefit of the European Union (EU) carbon emissions trading program – a type of system which the aforementioned countries have thus far failed to implement, but which caps the EU's total emissions:

"CO2 emissions would rise only in the short term under a phase-out of nuclear power by 2020 instead of 2022. A complete phase-out by 2015, however, would push up CO2 emissions considerably...Climate change mitigation would not be affected, contrary to some widespread beliefs. There is a cap for European greenhouse gas emissions. When one country increases its emissions, they have to be reduced somewhere else."

In other words, not only does Germany already have a far more aggressive emissions reduction goal than most other developed nations, but it's also part of the EU, which has implemented a serious system to cap carbon emissions.  It's also worth noting that German per capita CO2 emissions are approximately half those of the three aforementioned countries, and have already dropped more than 20% since 1990.  Therefore, although Germany may have its priorities backwards in terms of fossil fuel vs. nuclear phase-outs, it's still far ahead of the USA, Australia, Canada, and others in terms of taking serious steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

0 0

Bookmark and Share Printable Version  |  Link to this page

Comments

Comments 1 to 44:

  1. This is well put:

    Thus from a logical and scientific standpoint, Germany should first phase-out the use of more dangerous and environmentally damaging fossil fuels before pursuing a phase-out of nuclear power. Unfortunately the German public has its priorities backwards, phasing-out the energy source which poses less of a threat to both public health and the global climate.


    It's worth bearing in mind that Germany is already barely coping:

    The four German TSOs have indicated that the nuclear power moratorium is having a significant impact on the German electricity supply system. Sufficient security of energy supply may not be guaranteed in southern Germany on very cold winter days with concurrent low wind power generation.

    Section 11(1) of the German Energy Act (EnWG) obliges transmission system operators (TSOs) to operate a secure, reliable and capable energy transmissions system without discrimination. Furthermore, they are obliged to maintain the system, to optimize it in line with demand, to strengthen it and to expand it, to the extent this is commercially reasonable. However, as unbundled TSOs do not generate the electricity, and as recent shutdowns are limiting German generation capacity, the German TSOs are facing a challenge to comply with their obligations.

    As a result of the Fukushima moratorium and scheduled revisions, only 4 of the 17 German nuclear power plants are currently online. Favourable conditions (low network load, strong solar, but rather low wind power input) and system operator interventions have so far made it possible to maintain network stability, the TSOs pointed out. Assuming no unusual events, the situation shall presumably be manageable also for the summer period, the four TSOs (Amprion GmbH, 50Hertz Transmission GmbH, EnbW Transportnetze AG and Tennet TSO GmbH) said.

    However, stability will require using every possibility form of redispatch measures, interventions in the electricity markets, to postponing urgent grid maintenance and expansion projects as well as power plant revisions, they added. The TSOs also indicated that the free electricity market will be suspended for considerable periods of time. Still the risk of power failure has increased, the TSOs said.

    In case input capacity remained reduced by 8,000 MW after the end of the 3-month nuclear power extension moratorium (on 15 June 2011), TSOs foresee problems in particular for the coming winter months, as the possibilities for interventions were largely exhausted. In (industrial) southern Germany the electricity demand might not be satisfied on cold cloudy winter days with a low wind power input in northern Germany. 2,000 MW of secure generation capacity would be missing in southern Germany. Demand might also not be covered by electricity imports if other countries consume their electricity output themselves. As a consequence the risk for large power outages will increase, the TSOs warned.
    0 0
  2. Another, more up-to-date, article from B.K. Savacool makes interesting reading too :


    This article judges modern nuclear power and renewable electricity technologies according to six criteria: cost; fuel availability; land degradation; water use; climate change; and safety/security. It concludes that when these criteria are taken into consideration, renewable electricity technologies present policy makers with a superior alternative for minimising the risk of fuel interruptions and shortages, helping improve the fragile transmission network and reducing environmental harm.


    As does this article, from him too - The ªSelf-Limitingº Future of Nuclear Power" :


    Any rational investor, regulator, and citizen would choose instead to invest in the deployment of technologies that require little to no energy inputs so as to harness free and clean fuels widely throughout the world. Policy makers should peek beyond the smoke-and-mirrors Kabuki dance used to obscure the obvious advantages of renewable technologies and the obvious costs of nuclear systems. Any effective response to electricity demand in a world facing climate change involves enormous expansion in our use of renewable technologies and a steady abandonment of nuclear power.
    0 0
  3. JMurphy

    Quoting Savacool #2

    Any rational investor, regulator, and citizen would choose instead to invest in the deployment of technologies that require little to no energy inputs so as to harness free and clean fuels widely throughout the world. Policy makers should peek beyond the smoke-and-mirrors Kabuki dance used to obscure the obvious advantages of renewable technologies and the obvious costs of nuclear systems. Any effective response to electricity demand in a world facing climate change involves enormous expansion in our use of renewable technologies and a steady abandonment of nuclear power.


    This would be true if there was a convincing argument that renewables provide a more efficient path to rapid decarbonisation than does nuclear.
    0 0
  4. JMurphy

    We both want the same thing: rapid global decarbonisation. Let's debate the fundamentals reasonably. Nothing off the table.
    0 0
  5. Nothing IS off the table, which is why nuclear must take its place as we move away from oil and coal.
    But nuclear is NOT the future, either : renewables are and will be. The sooner we can move to 100% renewables, the better. How we do that is an ongoing struggle.
    0 0
  6. JMurphy

    #5

    A very broad statement. Which I very cautiously agree with. But we are a long way from talking about renewables displacing nuclear.

    And it's not something that will wait.
    0 0
  7. It will be interesting to see how the Germans do. I really wish they would prioritize phasing-out coal first. If they can accomplish a phasing-out of both coal and nuclear at the same time, more power to them (no pun intended), but I'm skeptical (as is Chancellor Merkel).
    0 0
  8. btw I just updated the post. Germany has recently passed laws to increase its share of renewable energy production from 17% to 35% of total production by 2020. That's not quite enough to replace all nuclear power (about 23%), however. I suspect they'll be replacing come aging coal plants with natural gas over that period as well.
    0 0
  9. Agreed, Dana. The world's politicians and lobbyists are using Germany as an example of how switching to renewable energy works and how effective it is (or is not).
    The better an example they set, the sooner places like Australia, Canada and U.S.A. might take real action.
    0 0
  10. # JMurphy,

    If you look at the Sovacool piece and in particular Table 1 - Disadvantages of Nuclear Power, it reads more like a hand waving anti-nuclear polemic than anything else. For example:

    The energy intensity of the nuclear fuel cycle and energy pay back and declining reserves of high- quality uranium result in a low energy pay back ratio, whereby plants must operate for decades before they produce
    any net energy.


    Which sounds truly horrible, but is it in fact true?

    This piece suggests that EREOI has been steadily improving for nuclear power, not declining as Sovacool is implying. This should come as no surprise with the move from gas diffusion to centrifuge enrichment or the advent of new designs such as the Westinghouse AP1000 that are smaller and require a lot less steel, concrete etc.

    You can also take a stab at estimating the EREOI for nuclear by looking at the low whole life cycle emissions assessments, which are simply incompatible with poor EREOI assuming (very reasonably) input energy comes from fossil fuels.

    Table 1 is riddled with highly questionable assertions which very much look like fuel for debating points rather than anything else.
    0 0
  11. Err... that should be EROEI not EREOI.
    0 0
  12. The future of energy is in renewables plus renewable nuclear.

    The current nuclear power plants use nuclear FISSION of either Uranium (specifically the U-235 isotope) or Thorium (actually Thorium-232 initially reacts with a neutron to form U-233, that unlike Th-232 is fissible):



    They are obtained as Uraninite-Thorianite ores (ThO2-UO2) or Cerium Monacite ores((Ce,La,Nd,Th)(PO4)) that must be mined and then processed.

    This means that there is high use of energy in the process of extraction and processing, and also huge amounts of waste are produced. The process for nuclear fuel is the following:



    Among the residues are the mill tailings, the depleted uranium (U-238) and most important, the highly radioactive (unlike the original U and Th) spent fuel.
    0 0
  13. There is a posting on the BBC's web site on Nuclear: A tortuous timescale at:-
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13993997.

    There is a link on that page to the decommissioning of Oldbury Nuclear power station, the timeline is horrifying as the work will not be completed for another 100 years.

    That is if there is the manpower and oil to drive the equipment needed.
    0 0
    Response:

    [DB] Fixed html in broken link.

  14. peter prewett

    And the residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere is...?

    It boils down to the lesser of two evils, every time.
    0 0
  15. (continuation)

    But there is the alternative of nuclear fusion.

    The easiest process is the Deuterium(H-2) + Tritium(H-3) fusion, that produces Helium-3 plus one neutron:

    H-1 + H-3 → He-3 + n



    This reaction still requires a relatively rare isotope, Tritium. It can be obtained from litium:

    n + Li-6 → H-3 + He-4

    n + Li-7 → H-3 + He-4 + n

    Litium is still a non-renewable metal that must be mined.

    But there is the D-D reaction, that uses just deuterium:

    H-1 + H-2 → H-3 + H-1 or He-3 + n

    This uses the abundant deuterium, found in the abundant water on Earth.

    Water is considered renewable (actually isn’t, but there is so much of it that will behave as if it were a never-ending resource, just like the hydrogen burned to helium in sun in a similar nuclear fusion reaction)
    0 0
  16. I did a little back of the envelope calculation to test out the proposition that cost of the Fukushima accident is "proof" that nuclear power is too expensive. This is what I came up with:

    Over the whole history of nuclear power worldwide, total electricity generated: ~70,000,000 GWh
    (from eyeballing the chart here: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf01.html )

    Assuming that has displaced black coal at ~900 grams/kWh CO2 implies an emissions saving of ~63,000,000,000 tonnes CO2
    For an assumed cleanup cost of $100,000,000,000 at Fukishima that is an additional CO2 abatement cost of ~$1.40 per tonne CO2 over the whole history of nuclear power.
    0 0
  17. #13 peter prewett,

    Oldbury has old Magnox reactors which are known to be difficult and expensive to decommission. They are not representative of decommissioning issues or costs for water moderated, water cooled reactors such as PWRs, BWRs and CANDUs.
    0 0
  18. Germany is unquestionably the pace setter when it comes to reducing CO2 emissions in terms of what it has already achieved and what it proposes. Its 2020 target can be achieved though probably not without supplementation such as import of electricity from France and Denmark or improvement in the storage and distribution of energy over the present decade. Both are possible. The latter is more important, particularly ability to store electricity and efficiently release it in response to periodic increased demand.
    0 0
  19. #18 Agnostic,

    Do you have any recent data to back that up. According to these 2005 figures, Germany was performing somewhere in the middle of the pack with respect to both Kyoto commitments and in absolute per capita emissions reductions.
    0 0
  20. quokka - most of the countries in your graph with larger emissions cuts than Germany are Eastern European, and probably had a lot more to do with economic struggles after the collapse of the USSR than actual efforts to reduce emissions. In recent years, emissions have started to rise for many of those countries.

    As I noted in the post, Germany is at around half the per capita emissions of USA, Canada, and Australia, and has reduced emissions >20% since 1990 due to concrete efforts to make that happen, not just economic struggles. I think it's fair to call them a pace setter.
    0 0
  21. @20 dana1981

    If you want to look at comparable Western European economies, then try this. It is still not obvious to me that Germany is THE pacesetter. The standout of course is France because of nuclear power.

    From the Google data, both France and Germany have reduced their emissions about 20% from 1991 to 2007. The UK by about 15%. By 1990, France had already essentially completed their build of nuclear.
    0 0
  22. Quokka,
    It seems to me that at 16 you have underestimated the cleanup costs of Fukishima. Since the 4 (6?) power plants that have been destroyed at Fukishima had a replacement value of at least $10,000,000,000 each (a reactor proposed near me is currently estimated at $18B), that alone is $40B. How much is evacuating the surrounding area, for years, worth? The farming must be worth a lot in such a large area, not to mention the fishing and tourism.

    If you want to count the costs against the entire nuclear industry you should cost Chernobyl and 3 mile island also. The reactors would be worth at least $20B. What is your estimate of the value of the land around Chernobyl for decades? What are the cleanup costs so far at Chernobyl (financed by other governments)? It starts to look like real money. It is very difficult to find investors in the US who are willing to take the risk. Most of the proposed plants require government financing.

    As Dana points out, nuclear is better than coal. It is hard to compare nuclear costs when it is so difficult to find out what they are.
    0 0
  23. #22 michael sweet

    The four destroyed reactors at Fukushima Daiichi had a total capacity of 2719 MWe. We can add reactors 5 and 6 to the list that will never operate again giving a total capacity of 2719 + 1827 = 4546 GWe. The most modern of all these reactors came on line in 1979. Most of their value is depeciated away already. In themselves they are not a huge loss.

    In any case $10 billion per new reactor is way off. Current builds run between about $1.6 billion per GWe (China CPR1000) to about $5 billion per GWe (Finland EPR-France)to $3.8 per GWe (UAE - Sth Korea).


    You can find IEA assessment of new nuclear build costs over a range of countries here: New Nuclear Power Costs For Japan, they report $3billion/GWe overnight costs.

    My Fukushima accident costs were just an assumption. If you double or triple them, it does not diminish the validity of what I was saying.
    0 0
  24. quokka @23:

    "The four destroyed reactors at Fukushima Daiichi had a total capacity of 2719 MWe. We can add reactors 5 and 6 to the list that will never operate again giving a total capacity of 2719 + 1827 = 4546 GWe."


    I presume that is 4,546 MWe. That still yields a replacement cost of 7 to 22 billion for all reactors. I agree, however, that even a Fukushima style accident every thirty years or so does not mean that nuclear is better than coal or gas. It does, I think, call into question the claimed superiority of nuclear power to renewable power claimed by "nuke boosters".
    0 0
  25. More on the consequences of the Fukushima accident:

    TEPCO recently reported that 124 of it's workers have received a radiation dose of over 100 mSv. Working Conditions Improve at Fukushima

    Assuming an increased risk of a fatal cancer of 5% per Sv, that's an expected increase in the number of fatal cancers among plant workers of just one.

    By comparison in the aftermath of Chernobyl, 300,000 'liquidators' received an average dose of nearly 150 mSv.

    The UNSCEAR Chairman has said that he doesn't expect to find health effects either in the general population or plant workers based on current evidence. It will take a couple of years for UNSCEAR to compile it's study.

    U.N. body to probe Fukushima radiation impact
    0 0
  26. quokka wrote : "If you look at the Sovacool piece and in particular Table 1 - Disadvantages of Nuclear Power, it reads more like a hand waving anti-nuclear polemic than anything else."


    What about the rest of the article ?

    As for your EROEI piece, I have no problems with what is written, nor the conclusion :


    All of this goes to show that for the UK to get over the looming energy gap there is little better in energy terms than to go for the on-shore wind, a suite of offshore renewables, and much as I hate to say it, probably a wedge of nuclear too. Clean coal is a dead end.


    Let's just hope that we can move away from whatever limited percentage of nuclear has to be used, however, sooner rather than later.
    0 0
  27. The current ITER project for fusion power could solve most problems by mid century. Its certainly one option which should have money put into it, along with the renewables.
    0 0
  28. Quokka says
    "Most of their value is depeciated away already. In themselves they are not a huge loss."

    These reactors had value even if the owner has written it all off. You are arguing tax law to underestimate the loss from the accident. The loss should reflect the replacement value (or perhaps what they could have sold for before the accident), not the tax value.

    It is clear that it is difficult to estimate the value of a nuclear accident. My very strong impression is that nuclear supporters consistently underestimate their problems. This makes it difficult for me to understand what the costs really are. After 20-30 years of consistent underestimates of problems and overestimates of reliability, I no longer trust nuclear proponents. I think this is a general problem that the nuclear industry has. Have they figured out where they are going to put all their waste yet?

    You have still not estimated the value of the loss of 1,000's of square km that have had to be evacuated (for years if not decades), the loss of value of homes near other nuclear plants, since no-one wants to be exposed to such a problem themselves, and the value of the 4,000 non-fatal throid cancers (and other cancers) documented previously in this thread. It appears to me that you are greatly underestimating the economic effect of this disaster. Saying I can double or triple them does not make me feel better. This is why I no longer trust nuclear proponents estimates.

    It appears to me that the Germans also are tired of incorrect estimates of reliability and cost. That is why they are leaving nuclear.
    0 0
  29. Tom Curtis #24

    It does, I think, call into question the claimed superiority of nuclear power to renewable power claimed by "nuke boosters".

    Nuclear power is superior to renewables because is it a proven, scalable, mature baseload generation technology that can - and will, given the chance - significantly displace coal from the global energy mix.

    Renewables are fundamentally unsuited to baseload, extremely expensive, extremely low density, untried at large scales and fraught with uncertainties we have neither the budget (opportunity cost) nor the time (AGW) to explore.

    I seem to recall that we've been through this in detail already.
    0 0
  30. @michael sweet

    You make completely unsubstantiated assertions about "20-30 years of underestimates of problems and overestimates of reliability" and declare you no longer "trust" nuclear proponents. This kind of dialog is simply not good enough. It is perhaps even more important to examine all of the evidence in matters of energy than in matters of climate science because only through understanding the realities of energy is there any hope of having any chance of even containing the climate problem.

    In well managed nuclear fleets there is an undeniable trend to greater reliability over the decades as operational experience and knowledge has been achieved. In the US fleet, capacity factor has been at around 90+% for the last decade. This is an excellent result. You could hardly ask for better, although from memory I think Sth Korea does do a little better. See here and open the PowerPoint presentation.

    I presented a scenario to examine the proposition that the Fukushima accident is "proof" that nuclear power is too expensive and put some numbers on it. This meme echos around the blogosphere just like climate denialism. I was not making any attempt at an accurate estimate of costs which in any case are not well known at this time. But what I did show, I believe, is that the meme has little basis. This is what we should all do when confronted with such claims. First ask the question - do they make any sense? Are the numbers anywhere near the ball park?

    If you want to put some numbers together, the go ahead, but do not ask me to do it for you.
    0 0
  31. I think it's worth noting that baseload power is generally inefficient power, because much is wasted during off-peak hours. In one of the German reports linked in this post, they discuss that once there is a certain level of renewable penetration, it will actually become cost ineffective to build new baseload power plants. Essentially the combination of intermittent renewables plus peak generators (i.e. gas turbines) is more cost effective and efficient than a bunch of baseload sources.
    0 0
  32. There is an interesting report by the German Advisory Council on Global Change, an advisory council to the German government. An English version can be found here: A Social Contract for Sustainability
    It shows in detail the path to a carbon-free economy. It is quite a good read.

    I think it has not yet been mentioned here that the German plan also includes CO2-emission reduction by an overall reduction of energy consumption and an increasing energy efficiency.
    So phasing out all the nuclear plants does not mean that you will have to substitute their absolute share in today's energy production. So even replacing old coal and nuclear power plants with new coal and gas p/p may not have as negative an impact as some may think.
    0 0
  33. #26 JMurphy

    You ask what else is wrong with the shopping list of Table 1. Try this sort of stuff:
    A shortage of key components and skilled labor could result in increased costs for nuclear power plants and /or slow any transition to a nuclear renaissance

    Which may be paraphrased as "if bad things happen, then it would be bad" but quantifies nothing. You could say the same thing about any expansion of any heavy industry. Undoubtedly it takes development of the supply chain, contractors need to adapt to the special requirements, training and education takes time and so on. Nobody doubts this. We do know however that the problems are surmountable because we have an existence proof in the case of France which did manage to overcome such problems. This is not to claim it is necessarily easy or inevitable. But nothing is easy or inevitable when it comes to clean energy.

    or this:
    Decommissioning costs can sometimes be greater costs than the costs of building a plant in the first place

    Possibly, but not for plants that are built today and almost certainly not for the existing fleet of water cooled, water moderated reactors. And that is what counts - not the cost of decommissioning cold war era dual purpose facilities. The IEA estimates decommissioning at something like 15%-20% of the original capital cost. It has surprisingly little effect on the Levelized Cost of Electricity because it is discounted well into the future. See my link above for IEA estimates.
    0 0
  34. michael sweet @28, the 4000 thyroid cases where for Chernobyl, not Fukushima. It is unlikely that the health impacts of Fukushima will be anywhere near as large due to the prompt evacuations and cautious approach in dealing with the situation. Even the economic impact will be small compared to that of the tsunami, or compared to the overall production of power by nuclear power plants. Even assuming the economic cost runs to 1 trillion dollars, the cost per kWh based on Quokka's estimate of cumulative power production runs to only 1.5 cents per kWh.

    I share your concern about the pollyanderish attitudes of nuclear proponents, the patently inaccurate statistics sometimes presented, and the distorted claims they make about renewables. Never-the-less, I think we should keep things in perspective, and in perspective nuclear power including Fukushima is safer for the Japanese than car travel, and probably also than train travel as well.
    0 0
  35. dana1981 #31

    I think it's worth noting that baseload power is generally inefficient power, because much is wasted during off-peak hours.


    First, can you show from actual national-scale grid load curves where you get this?

    Second, you are miscasting the way baseload is provided to a correctly balanced grid. The day/night variation is managed by intermediate and peaking plant. The vast majority of baseload is consumed 24/7/365.

    So baseload is both efficiently generated by plants running at optimum capacity 24/7 and efficiently consumed.

    The rest of what you say, presumably based on the report, is not (how shall I put this?) widely accepted.
    0 0
  36. quokka @33, what is the discount rate?

    Also, I consider the idea of discounting future costs for calculation of levelized costs dubious. Assuming we are looking at a long term energy solution, then eventually power plants will exist in all phases of their cycle in about even numbers. Therefore the ongoing cost of the industry will include all features including decommissioning at current values, and that is the cost we are interested in. In this our perspective is different from that of an investor (for whom discounting is appropriate).
    0 0
  37. dana1981 #31

    It's also vital to consider what is coming. Electrification of personal transport (with overnight charging the norm) and increased use of day/night AC in cities will drive baseload demand upwards significantly.

    High-renewables scenarios invariably require much reduced demand in order to 'work'. It's another reason to be extremely sceptical of such claims.
    0 0
  38. quokka wrote : "You ask what else is wrong with the shopping list of Table 1."


    Not quite. I asked about the rest of the article.
    0 0
  39. Okay I've moved my point to this thread as per request :)

    German Energy Priorities

    -----------
    Ouch - obviously the practical realities in Germany mean that the denial of nuclear and the as yet "not ready" renewables means more fossil fuels

    Unfortunately reality mugs wishful thinking again?
    -----------------

    @ Dana #7,#8

    You say you wish they had other priorities? Me too - but why do you think they don't?
    Clearly Germany have been leaders in transitioning to renewables so it can't be the argument that they don't want to.

    Isn't this somewhat indicative that when push comes to shove the idea that renewables are ready to take on the sort of burden of generation that many in the green movement proselytise is simply not practical and wishful thinking?

    Isn't it time we confronted this reality and stopped being guilty of evidence denialism - the very thing that makes many of us so disparaging of climate science deniers?

    Isn't it time we pushed for practical realistic plans for renewables instead of unrealistic very high renewable scenarios?
    If Germany appears to have no alternative in its replacement for nuclear (something I disagree with but understand given the risk/hazard issue I posted at #135 in the Baseload Renewables Thread) then doesn't this suggest the promise of renewables (at least currently) is being vastly overhyped?
    Maybe in the long run we might get there - but, as the saying goes, we are all dead in the long run
    0 0
  40. ahem - moderator - seems to be an issue with how new posts are numbered in this thread?
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [Dikran Marsupial] It may be that some posts have been deleted. It is generally better to refer to other posts using an URL rather than a number as the URLs are stable under deletion.
  41. Mark, I think you're a bit confused. I wish the Germans would prioritize phasing-out coal before nuclear. This has nothing to do with renewables being unable to take up the burden. If the Germans phased-out fossil fuels first then nuclear, renewables would be able to take up the burden for both with no problem. As it is, some studies find that Germany can phase-out both simultaneously and replace with renewables, as long as they don't do it too quickly.

    The only problem here seems to be that Germany may be trying to phase-out nuclear power too quickly for renewables to be able to fully replace it and the coal which is being phased-out simultaneously. It's not a matter of renewables being unable to supply most energy (in fact Germany still plans 100% renewable power by 2050), it's just the speed at which they're trying to do it.
    0 0
  42. To moderator - no I mean that the numbering of the psost seems all out of whack. Ever since #29 they are all nubered as #1. This is not the case on other threads?
    0 0
    Response:

    [DB] This comment is currently listed as number 42 on this thread.  Perhaps a forced refresh of your browser is in order (if using Firefox, hold down the left shift key and hit the refresh button).

  43. Thanks Dana for your clarification of your views.

    But what evidence do you have that renewables can do the job now?

    The very fact that they must use coal to replace nuclear is ample proof, I think, that they cannot do the job today?
    0 0
  44. Hi Moderator - I don;t think it's my browser - I;ve done a complete refresh and also deleted all history and the issue I describe avove is still the case?

    Does anyone else see it?
    0 0

You need to be logged in to post a comment. Login via the left margin or if you're new, register here.



The Consensus Project Website

TEXTBOOK

THE ESCALATOR

(free to republish)

THE DEBUNKING HANDBOOK

BOOK NOW AVAILABLE

The Scientific Guide to
Global Warming Skepticism

Smartphone Apps

iPhone
Android
Nokia

© Copyright 2014 John Cook
Home | Links | Translations | About Us | Contact Us