Monday, November 19, 2012

Germany Abandons Nuclear Power

One of the many problems with "The Left" is that they govern their actions more with emotion than logic.  Running a country based on emotional, rather than rational decisions, will generally prove to be a mistake.

Hysterical, Not Rational Decisions
Witness the hysterical reaction of Germans who demanded and succeeded in shutting down (eventually) all of their nuclear reactors in response to Japan's Fukushima accident.  They have shutdown 8 of the oldest reactors right away with a plan to shut down all of the remaining reactors by 2022.  This move borders on hysteria as Germany has no risk of tsunami or earthquakes to wreck it's reactors.  Fukushima's single problem was that it's emergency diesel generators were not mounted high enough in the facility to avoid the unusually high tsunami wave.  And yes, I could also understand shutting down any reactors with the same design as Chernobyl.   But I doubt if Germany is using Russian nuclear designs, but I'm not sure.

But remember, logic has no place in this discussion!

Angela Merkel gave into the Green party and green movement to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster and will pay dearly to do so.  The people have a right to choose, as long as they understand the cost of doing so.  The other factor is that the people have their heads in "pie-in-the-sky" energy alternatives: dreams promoted by "green" propaganda.

Instead, they have embraced uneconomic alternative "green" energy providing subsidies for alternative energy producers.  Yes, wind power is promising (but intermittent) for the country who borders on the North Sea, but Solar power of ANY kind is extremely unrealistic given the country's latitude (52 degrees North) and frequent cloud cover.  Are they going to damn the Rhine or any other river for power production?  I don't think so.  So, what else is there?   There isn't anything else!

I ran into a young German engineering student on vacation in Bangkok, who was proud that his country is shutting down the nuclear plants.  He was excited that he was going to be working on a project to bring solar power from North Africa to Germany. The plan, which he said already has failed to find private investors for obvious reasons, is to use mirror arrays to focus sunlight to make steam and power. That power has to transmitted 1000s of kilometers, under the Mediterranean and across Southern Europe to Germany.  The cost of the submarine power cables and their installation already makes the project uneconomic.  Second, all of the N. African countries are in the throes of violent revolutions which promises to worsen.  Third, those solar generated steam power plants are not even close to being economic compared to conventional power plants even in America.  It is highly unlikely that private money will ever chase these kinds of projects.  It's truly "pie-in-the-sky."

Even fossil fueled power plants with carbon capture are highly likely to be substantially more cost effective than most "green" energy.

Once Built, Nuclear Power Plants Provide Virtually Free Power
 It's a pity about the phase-out, because nuclear power is virtually free once the facility is built and operational.  The cost of nuclear power is primarily the capital cost of the facility (including the cost of decommissioning).  The cost of the nuclear fuel is small.  To shut down the nuclear reactors eliminates nearly "free" electricity.

Here's a breakdown of Germany's Electrical power production from Wikipedia

Expect A Cost Disaster
From Yahoo News:
Germans already pay some of Europe's highest electricity prices, averaging about 24 euro cents (31 US cents) per kilowatt hour compared with about 13 euro cents in France or 14 euro cents in Britain, according to EU figures.  [Electricity costs in the US range from about 5 US Cents to about 15 US cents with 9.5 US cents per kilowatt hour on average]
Germans have long been paying a surcharge on power bills, which guarantees producers of alternative energies a return on their investment above market rate. That's widely credited with boosting renewable energies and making Germany a leader on so-called green technologies.
The country's four main grid operators said Monday that households will from January see a nearly 50 percent rise in the tax they pay to finance the switchover — from €3.6 cents to €5.3 cents ($6.7 cents) per kilowatt hour. A typical family of four will pay about €250 ($324) per year under the tariff.
"The surcharge has more than quadrupled since 2009. It has crossed the tolerable level of pain," said Economy Minister Philipp Roesler. He urged a quick reform of the subsidy system, saying it has spiraled "out of control."  
 The tax totaled €17 billion ($22 billion) in 2011 and analysts expect it to top €25 billion next year — or about 1 percent of the country's economic output.
 That is set to keep increasing as government plans call for generating 40 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and up to 80 percent by 2050. Reaching those ambitious targets will likely require investments of up to €300 billion ($390) over the next decade, according to analysts' forecasts.  [these goals do not appear to be even close to realistic]
No Realistic Alternatives
As I mention above, other than wind power, which is intermittent but close to being cost effective, there are no alternative energy supplies that are attractive without subsidies.  So, expect more taxpayer money spent on unrealistic plans and expect more and more power to be imported into Germany from the European grid ---substantially supplied by nuclear power plants in France and Belgium!   The good news is that the "green" subsidy cost is being passed onto the consumer---not hidden in some national budget category.  This way, people know where their money is going.  But expect more of the cost to be "hidden" from the public in the future as the costs will rise higher than the people can bear.

The German people are already discovering the cost of their "dismissal of reality" and the remaining nuclear power plants may not be shutdown by 2022 after all.  A return to conventional power plants with and without carbon capture will be likely under any realistic administration.

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