Germany’s Successful Move from Nuclear

July 2, 2014

germansolar2

Longer article worth reading in entirety.

Amory Lovins in Forbes:

Before the March 2011 Fukushima disaster, both Germany and Japan were nearly 30% nuclear-pow­ered. In the next four months, Germany restored, and sped up by a year, the nuclear phaseout schedule originally agreed with industry in 2001–02. With the concurrence of all political parties, 41% of Germany’s nuclear power capacity—eight units of 17, including five similar to those at Fukushima and seven from the 1970s—got promptly shut down, with the rest to follow during 2015–22.

In 2010, those eight units produced 22.8% of Germany’s electricity. Yet a comprehensive package of seven other laws passed at the same time coordinated efficiency, renewable, and other initiatives to ensure reliable and low-carbon energy supplies throughout and long after the phaseout. The German nuclear shutdown, though executed decisively, built on a longstanding deliberative policy evolution consistent with the nuclear construction halts or operating phaseouts adopted in seven other nearby countries both before and after Fukushima.

Moreover, the Energiewende term and concept began before 1980, and Germany’s formal shift to renewables—now well over 70 billion watts installed—began in 1991, 20 years before Fukushima, then was reinforced in 2000 by feed-in tariffs. Those aren’t a subsidy but a way for customers to buy, and hence developers to finance and build, the renewables society chose, with a reasonable chance for sellers to earn a fair return on their investments. FITs’ values have plummeted in step with renewable costs, so developers now commonly opt to earn higher market prices instead.

This integrated policy framework and the solid analysis behind it meant that the output lost when those eight reactors closed in 2011 was entirely replaced in the same year—59% by the 2011 growth of renewables, 6% by more-efficient use, and 36% by temporarily reduced electricity exports. Through 2012, Germany’s loss of 2010 nuclear output was 94% offset by renewable growth; through 2013, 108%. At this rate, renewable growth would replace Germany’s entire pre-Fukushima nuclear output by 2016.

Contrary to widespread misreportage, closing those eight reactors did not cause more fossil fuel to be burned. Whenever renewable sources run in Germany, both law and econom­ics require them to displace costlier sources, so renewables always make fossil-fueled plants run less, though often in more complex patterns. The data confirm this: from 2010 through 2013, German nuclear output fell by 43.3 TWh, renewable output rose by 46.9 TWh, and the power sector burned almost exactly as much more coal and lignite as it burned less of the costlier gas and oil. German utilities bet against the energy transition and lost. Now they gripe that the renewables in which most of them long underinvested have made their thermal plants too costly to run.

 

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48 Responses to “Germany’s Successful Move from Nuclear”


  1. On German GHG emissions.
    Note the relative lack of progress in liquids. (transport)
    http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/emis/ger_reg.html


    • If one was trying to elucidate rather than obscure, basing the graph at 1985 instead of 1785 would be in order.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        I too looked at that graph and thought it was rather obfuscatory. Going back to 1750 IS valuable in that it shows the huge increase in FF CO2 emissions resulting from industrialization. Hockey stick, anyone? The 75 year and 40 MMT scales are awkward, as well.

        I prefer graphs that “stack” the various sources as cumulative wedges under the “total” line—-easier to analyze, particularly when looking at changes in “share” over time.

        I will ask again what this graph “precisely and accurately” tells us about the bigger AGW picture?. Yes, Germany’s overall per capita emissions have been dropping. Coal is way down, gas is up, liquids are rather flat, and what 80 million Germans are doing re CO2 emissions is not as important as what 2720 million Chinese and Indians are planning.


        • If a picture is worth a thousand words, the 7:03 pm post link says it all. The failure of Kyoto to get US and China to participate is written all over that graph. Also shows Germany in perspective. We are only dismissing Germany’s significance because they have met their goals. One would think China already had massive pollution in mind before they charged ahead with coal development. There is no way they could have been unaware when they refused Kyoto. A pretty poor attitude. Same with the US gov.

        • j4zonian Says:

          What Germany has done and is doing are very important. Germany is showing the way to reduce, over a few decades, both fossil and nuclear fuel use and replace them with efficiency (though they’re already twice as efficient as the US) and renewables. China’s and India’s plans will change. In response to reality and the possibility shown by Germany, Spain, Portugal, Iceland, Scandinavia…even the US and yes, China, their plans are adjusting to reality–too slowly but that will change too. China’s beginning to realize it can’t increase coal the way it’s planned to. If it comes to reality soon that will change the reality in the US and Canada, both trying to build pipelines and seaports to send coal and other fuels of the past to China. Now that’s being stopped on both sides of the ocean.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            You too need to read the book “Bright-Sided” as an antidote to your wishful thinking. Germany is “showing” us how to do it? Along with some other fly-speck developed countries? Perhaps true in some sense, but is anyone watching? Read “the Great Disruption” as well for some clues as to what the world will need to do (but at present seems unwilling to move on rapidly enough) to avoid perhaps fatal “disruption”.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            PS You also talk about “….the reality in the US and Canada, both trying to build pipelines and seaports to send coal and other fuels of the past to China”.

            The U.S. and Canada (and Australia and Russia and the OPEC countries) are not TRYING to send “fuels of the past” to China. They ARE shipping coal, oil, LNG and natural gas EVERYWHERE right now and plan to do more of it, because that’s the nature of the fossil fuel beast and capitalism. Exploit, exploit, exploit. Every country that has FF resources has plans to make money by exporting the surplus to countries that do not. Wake up.


  2. I’m shocked, but not surprised, that the commentariat here failed to catch this howler:

    This integrated policy framework and the solid analysis behind it meant that the output lost when those eight reactors closed in 2011 was entirely replaced in the same year—59% by the 2011 growth of renewables, 6% by more-efficient use, and 36% by temporarily reduced electricity exports.

    In other words, that generation was made up by burning fossil fuels—but outside Germany.  That meant it made someone else fail to meet their Kyoto obligations, not Berlin.

    It does suggest that an entire nation could use the Vermont strategy:  get all your fossil-fired electricity from elsewhere, and proclaim one’s self squeaky-clean and climactically pure.  Leave the messy job of actually producing what you consume (and its associated emissions), whether Chinese steel or Polish coal-fired power, to those nasty foreigners.

    Contrary to widespread misreportage, closing those eight reactors did not cause more fossil fuel to be burned.

    Claiming it doesn’t make it true.  For people who are so quick to point out the Big Lie technique when used by others, it’s unbecoming to use it yourself.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      “Claiming it doesn’t make it true. For people who are so quick to point out the Big Lie technique when used by others, it’s unbecoming to use it yourself”, says Engineer-Pomposity.

      There must be an echo in the room, because that appears to be exact;y what E-Pomp is doing here—-cherry-picking, misinterpreting, and telling his own “big lies”. He overlooks the words “temporarily reduced”, even though he has bold-faced them, and neglects to cite the later portion of the article that talks about Germany then setting exported electricity records AFTER 2011.

      This is no “howler”, unless he is attempting to do a poor imitation of Omno, and making fun of the handicapped is not really very funny. If E-Pomp is serious about his assertions, he is indeed behaving in an “unbecoming” way.


      • Oh, look, the guy with the hard-on for me is here again.

        He overlooks the words “temporarily reduced”, even though he has bold-faced them

        You deliberately overlook the nature of what was exported.  Before, it was excess generation from base-load plants:  stable, predictable, something that industries can be planned around.  Afterward it was surges from unreliable sources, causing the neighboring countries so many headaches that they threaten to install switches to force Germany to deal with the problems itself instead of exporting them.

        Denmark is much the same.  Denmark’s power exports fetch a much lower price than its imports.  Were it not for the massive hydro resources of its neighbors, Denmark would probably find its own surges unmarketable at any price.

        The boosters of the Energiewende get uncomfortable when asked what would happen if all of Europe went the way of Germany.  Exporting surpluses does not scale.  When it’s a sunny or windy day on the whole continent, who would take the power exports?  That’s when the handwaving about “hydrogen” and “storage” starts, but the FITs and other market-rigging are putting Germany’s existing (paid for!) pumped-storage plants out of business; no new storage systems could possibly survive in the Energiewende regime.  Those not in deep denial already acknowledge that it has failed.

        neglects to cite the later portion of the article that talks about Germany then setting exported electricity records AFTER 2011.

        Electricity purchased at a steep feed-in tariff, and exported at prices sometimes less than zero.  (Not to worry, the German citizen gets to pay for all that.)

        Studies show rapidly diminishing returns from “renewables”.  A careful examination of the Argonne study’s results shows that the fuel savings fall to less than half of the fraction of power supplied by the time wind passes 30% of total load.  How, then, to get to 90% emissions reduction?  The “soft path” offers only massive poverty, a slow-motion suicide.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          “Oh, look, the guy with the hard-on for me is here again”, says E-Pot. Don’t flatter yourself with the “ME”—–it’s comments that set me off, not the commenter.

          I AM glad to see that when you were called on it this time, you DID respond with the kind of arguments you should have made in the first place rather than try to get by with a “big lie”. I did not “overlook” anything, because I was merely questioning your “interpretation” of the article and pointing out a conflict there rather than getting into arcane details about Energiewende and Germany.

          I see many of the same problems you do in the German energy picture, and you may have noticed from my recent comments that I don’t think what 80 million Germans do means much in the big picture anyway when stacked up against the 2720 million Chinese and Indians.

          I look at the “precise and accurate” data in the many graphs that have been cited here and shake my head—-they are merely PROJECTIONS into the far future, and I predict that MANY things will happen in the world in the nearer future that will knock them silly. Anyone who believes that Germany will be where it wants to be in 2050 is a motivated reasoner.


          • I AM glad to see that when you were called on it this time, you DID respond with the kind of arguments you should have made in the first place

            Anyone who follows the issue even casually has had those facts right in their face.  I leave them out because they SHOULD go unsaid.  If someone tries to dispute me, I immediately know that they either take their gospel from Green polemicists or they read their sources with severe confirmation bias.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Nice try, and said with your usual obfuscation, evasiveness, and attempt to “turn the argument back against the accuser” when caught with your pants down.

            You “left the facts out” because you were busily misusing the ARTICLE to spout propaganda and attempting to mislead us about what it said. What I don’t understand is your continuual doubling down on your bad bets rather than just dropping them and hoping we will all forget. You did that with desmids and got away with it, and you should do that here as well. Your narcissism does not serve you well here. The FACTS you stated about Germany make some sense and are worth talking about, your efforts to distract us from your BS are not.


  3. Here is the Argonne study results.
    “we conclude that as the wind power penetration increases, pollutant emissions decrease overall due to the replacement of fossil fuels.”
    http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es2038432
    This does not contradict previous CC.
    Breaking News: Dog Bites Man, Pope Catholic, Wind Energy Saves Carbon
    http://climatecrocks.com/2013/10/18/breaking-news-dog-bites-man-pope-catholic-wind-energy-saves-carbon/
    But some have just discovered the pope is Catholic and a man bit a dog.
    Strangely, one source of this (mis)information is:
    IER, or Institute for Energy research, described by Wikipedia as:
    ” a Washington, DC-based non-profit advocacy organization with strong ties to the oil industry”
    or simply, a lobbying arm of the oil industry.


  4. FYI, this on IER,
    IER has received funding from….. the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, which is run by executives of Koch Industries,

    The Institute’s CEO, Robert L. Bradley, Jr., was formerly a director of policy analysis at Enron, where he wrote speeches for Kenneth Lay.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      More “tide goes in, tide goes out” commentary. Yes, increased use of renewables causes CO2 emissions to go down and the Koch brothers continue to do their dirty deeds. So what else is new?

      The topic here is Germany, a country of 80 million that has just over 1% of the world’s population and generates 2+% of the world’s electricity. Compare it to China, India, the U.S., Russia, and Japan, which together have ~45% of the world’s population and generate about the same proportion of the world’s electricity. Germany ranks 6th in electrical generation with 634 GWh, just ahead of Canada, which has only 35 million people. The five countries ranking higher than Germany generated ~ 10,800,000 GWh out of the world total of 23,100,000 GWh, and burned a lot of fossil fuel while doing so. Isn’t that more significant?


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