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Germany To Ditch Nuclear Power By 2022

In the wake of Japan’s nuclear disaster, Germany says it will go cold turkey on nuclear power. Shut it all down. It’s a big step. We’ll look at that decision.

People ride their bikes and hold flags reading "Nuclear power? No thanks" during a demonstration at the nuclear power plant of Biblis in Germany, April 25. (AP)

People ride their bikes and hold flags reading "Nuclear power? No thanks" during a demonstration at the nuclear power plant of Biblis in Germany, April 25. (AP)

The latest fallout from the nuclear meltdowns in Japan is in Germany.

Europe’s industrial powerhouse announced this week it will go cold turkey on nuclear power. By 2022, all of Germany’s nuclear reactors will be shut down. Done. Germany’s energy, said the chancellor, must be safer.

It’s a big about-face for Europe’s economic engine. It’s highly political. And it presents Germany with a huge alternative energy challenge: How to replace nearly a quarter of its electric power generation in just eleven years.

This hour On Point: Germany slams the brakes on nuclear power.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

Marcel Vietor, program officer for energy and climate, Alfred von Oppenheim-Center for European Policy Studies at the German Council on Foreign Relations.

Arne Jungjohann, director for the Environment and Global Dialogue Program in the Washington office of the Heinrich Boll Foundation of North America. He is former senior adviser for the Green Party in the German Bundestag, the country’s legislative body. He worked on the implementation of the EU’s emissions trading scheme and on Germany’s Renewable Energy Act.

Charles Ebinger, director of the Brooking Institution’s Energy Security Initiative. Ebinger has served as an energy policy adviser to more than 50 governments and is an adjunct professor of Electricity Economics at Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

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  • Cory

    I still believe nuclear is the perfect bridge to post oil energy. Build smartly and safely and in smart and safe places.  Yes there will always be risks.  Germany’s move seems like an over-reaction.  Chernobyl, the Exxon Valdez, Japan, The Gulf of Mexico, Three Mile Island, endless mid-east involvement…  Six of one, or a half dozen of another. 

    • Worried for the country(MA)

      Yes, the latest US designs are much safer but they are expensive relative to nat. gas and coal.  They shouldn’t be as expensive but over regulation and NIMBY legal risk has tripled the price.

      Molten salt thorium reactors (LFTR) are much safer and cheaper and have numerous advantages.  Carbon free.  The Chinese have a crash program to productize the technology the US developed.  Maybe we can buy from them in 5 years?

      • Pancake

        That’s molten salts, not Morton Salt. It eats pipes like a cop on a doughnut. You can’t clean it up with a mop, and it runs downhill. Maintaining such a cauldron is not like taking a sitz bath, though I invite Worried… to try it.

  • troll doll

    I think Germanys reaction to BOTH the oil crisis and nuclear crisis is the perfect one. Force yourself to come up with an alternative and you will… theres nothing wrong with getting rid of both of these paradigms if possible. Whats wrong with making the future safer instead of more destructive and violent?

  • Anonymous

    I grew up in Germany and witnessed the formation of the Green Party. 

    Environmentalism and its grown political power owes much to the anti nuclear movement of the 80s. Without “Atomkraft? Nein Danke!” the Greens and the general shift toward sustainability efforts that now pervade the German consciousness would not have been possible.

    It also kickstarted the world’s leading (until this year) solar industry and took on the task of transforming mere guilt about overconsumption into finding solutions.

    Martin in Arlington, Mass.

  • Robert (in Chicago)

    The US shamefully rejected Thorium powered reactors, even though they are magnitudes less dangerous for the sole reason that Thorium, unliike Uranium, does not produce weapons grade plutonium. Thorium is as common as lead. Over 90% of Thorium is usable, compared to less tha 1% of Uranium.

    Other nations, notably Norrway and CHina are now switching to Thorium. Germany (and the rest of the world) would be far better off to follow their lead.

  • Dustin from CT

    Germany is taking a step in the right direction and this shouldnt come as a susprise as Germany has been on the leading edge of just about every modern technology.  We need to follow thier lead and create an organization similar to NASA that will provide an environment for rapid development of the technologies required to implement smart solar grid and power systems. NOW!

    • Anonymous

      We do have the structure now, but Republicans, as usual these days, are opposing ANY AND ALL efforts to develop sustainable energy, apparently at the behest of the fossil fuel industry.

      The problem with nuclear is the high cost of BUILDING a new plant, putting in all the required safety features. This would make a new uranium plant’s electricity cost OVER $0.20/KWH and as much as $0.27/KWH. This is not a favorable comparison with current prices of around $0.10/KWH and that of OLDER uranium plants under $0.05/KWH (the capital costs have been paid off, which is why the electric utilities want to extend the life of those built plants as they are effectively a cash cow).

      In the 1950s the U.S. did build a thorium plant at oak ridge which was shut down almost as soon as it began running. There are conspiracy theories that that occurred because the military wanted uranium for bombs, but none have been given much support that I know of. Note that there is not enough uranium in the U.S. to last much over 50 years and less if we went to a higher percentage of energy production from uranium. Thorium is a different story as it is plentiful throughout the world.

  • Mogl

    Immediately after Japans accident, On Point had speaker on (was it Simon Shama 4/13) who basically said: I used to be opposed to nuclear power, but if that’s the worst that can happen, I’ve changed my mind and believe we should double down on nuclear power.  Then I heard Japan and now Germany backing off for existing commitments and it makes me wonder what is wrong with us.

    • Pancake

      Yep, and who’s paying Simon Schama to talk crazy?

  • Guest

    The complete lack of information and knowledge about nuclear options is astounding. It is disgusting that they would dismiss the ONLY viable option for our increasing energy needs in such a reactive way to the Japanese disaster.  Like Robert said, the dangers of Thorium are far less than Uranium.  There are nuclear plant designs based on Thorium that make it IMPOSSIBLE for meltdown.  Yes, you read that correctly, IMPOSSIBLE.  Unlike current nuclear reactors, they do not run in a critical state, which means that when a problem occurs, the reacting material halts combustion.  The reason this technology isn’t in place already is that no one is willing to put their wallet on the line to try anything besides the standard, dangerous, Uranium-based nuclear reactors.

    • nj

      There are no viable, full-scale plant designs that use thorium as a fuel. Even a model, scaled-up plant is decades away.

      Plenty of energy can be saved with conservation measures using existing technologies.

      We sure do like our silver bullets, eh?

      • Pancake

        Isn’t Thorium one of the power arrangers or a comix something?

        The only place Thorium fuel has seen success is in Popular Science magazine between the virility serums and larger erection ads. I’m sure Grandpa will build those truck mounted marble bed jobs as soon as he recovers from his Internet porn session. The detailed plans are in the mail: only $39.95.

  • William

    The factories will just move to China. Fewer jobs will be in Germany and higher electric bills.

  • Nate

    Clean, renewable energy isn’t just the way forward, it’s the ONLY way forward. We either have already or will soon reach peak oil production, biofuels push food prices too high for the global labor market to sustain it as a prominent source of energy, coal and other fossil fuels are a finite resource and irreparably damage the environment. More to the point of the discussion, beyond the catastrophic potential of nuclear energy, the storage of un-recyclable nuclear waste will be a growing problem the more nuclear energy is relied upon. The only sustainable energy source the earth has is comprised of those clean, renewable sources like wind, wave, solar, tidal and, to a lesser extent, geothermal power.

    Nate in Boston

    • Anonymous

      @Nate @Matt in Hartford Just this week, GE declared that sustainable energy (in particular, wind and solar from PV and Thermal) will be cheaper than fossil fuel energy in just FIVE years!

  • Matt in Hartford

    its amazing what a country can do in regards to green energy when the special interests of big oil companies don’t exist in its politics. These are goals that the us should be setting so that it can compete in the global economy as the price of non-renewable energy begins to skyrocket in the coming years.

  • Reagan in Natick

    I spent much of my teens living in Germany as an Army brat and any nation could do this, it is Germany. They have some of the best engineering minds and they have been thinking in this conservation mindset for ages. It is a part of their culture when it comes to protecting and conserving all resources.

  • Tina

    1)  Isn’t this the VERY THING that encourages private investors to put money into a field that they are otherwise staying away from somewhat?  If our country were THIS devoted to the concept, couldn’t we increase private investment, as well?

    2)  Question:  Is Germany stopping the use of nuclear energy now; or will they stop its use at the 120-year mark once the other systems are in place?  If not, isn’t THIS the better way to not thru the baby out while searching for new, clean bathwaters?  And, so as not to put their nuclear scientists out of work, couldn’t they give them an ADDITIONAL CHALLENGE:  in 12 years, find the ultimate safe way to deal with nuclear waste?  Then, after 12 years, they would have a New Alternative Energy System in place, AND they’d be able to give other countries technologies to store their nuclear waste, so that they, too, can jettison it, but store the old stuff safely first!

  • Joachim111

    This is the right move for the future. If the US would invest the money they invested in Nuclear Power, subsidize Solar Panels on buildings and houses we would significantly reduce the need for Nuclear Power. In this country we a governed by a Republican party that has no vision but only warms up the old recipes that have been proven to be the wrong direction. Renewable is the way forward.

  • Anonymous

    Nuclear power emits about 75% as much carbon as does coal.

    Wind power and solar power don’t have catastrophic accidents!

    Neil

    • Worried for the country(MA)

      Neil, nonsense.  Cite your source on nuclear carbon emissions.

      • Anonymous

        Uranium has to be mined.

        It has to be refined.

        It has to be enriched in centrifuges for months.

        It has to be constructed into fuel rods with a special metal.

        The nuclear power plant itself takes years to construct; using lots of
        concrete, which itself takes a lot of energy to make.  Also a lot of
        steel, and a lot of specialized equipment.

        The fuel is used for 3-6 years, and then has to be cooled for about 10 years in the pools.

        Then a very large and heavy cask needs to be constructed, and the spent rods have to be transferred.

        Long term storage sites have to be prepared, and the dry casks have to be moved there.

        The materials need to be kept secure for … how long?  10,000 years? 
        25,000 years?  50,000 years?  I think the plutonium is deadly for at
        least 100,000 years.

        Then the power plant has to be decommissioned.

        Kind of a lot of effort in order to BOIL WATER, dontcha’ think?  Can you
        think of a better way to boil water?  I can — solar heat plants! 
        Geothermal works, too.

        • Worried for the country(MA)

          OK, but how does this add up to 75% CO2 of coal.

          • Anonymous

            It adds up to a lot of carbon.  Nuclear power has a *large* carbon footprint.

            And there are many inherent very bad problems with nuclear power; and these make it way more expensive — in an absolute true sense, like to the health of the people and the environment, that make it a non-starter.

            Renewable energy sources have solvable issues, and almost none of these downsides.  As we start using renewable energy, the carbon footprint of making wind turbines, solar systems, wave power systems, etc. — goes lower and lower as we use more and more renewable energy to make each generation.  They will get cleaner and cleaner over time; and they will last as long as the Earth lasts.

            Germany is a great example for the rest of us, and we don’t have the time to get mired in bickering about obvious dead ends.

            Neil

        • Anonymous

          Neil,You have laid out almost as well as I have the EXACT reasons to turn away from uranium solid fuel reactors and toward Thorium Molten Salt Reactors. You are obviously very intelligent and well-informed. We need you in our Thorium Community.
          Robert Orr Jr

    • Hbdansby

      I think it is more like nuclear has a carbon footprint 2/3 of natural gas, and natural gas is about 40% of coal.

  • Margaret

    Thanks to Germany for leading the way with a national policy to get rid of dirty and dangerous nuclear power. We in Vermont are also aware of the danger of nuclear power with Entergy Vermont Yankee and in 2012 Vermont’s nuclear power plant is scheduled to close. At the same time the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has given the go ahead for Vermont Yankee for another 20  years. Does Arne Junjohann have any advice for us here in Vermont?

  • Anonymous

    The current comment on “clean use of coal” is a myth as the likelihood of achieving “clean coal” anywhere near mid-term is as likely as finding a unicorn!

  • Joegallagher

    This sounds a lot like President Kennedy’s challenge to reach the moon within ten years. We didn’t know how we were going to accomplish that either. Germany’s vision is a display of great leadership.

    • Mill

      It’s not so much leadership as bowing to the demands of German citizens. There’s a huge difference.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Gallagher/1147644886 Michael Gallagher

      Great observation. You are a very intelligent person.

      • Jackjg1947

        That is a great observation of a great observation.You are a very, very intelligent person.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Gallagher/1147644886 Michael Gallagher

          Why thank you and same back to you.

  • Dora

    Germany is setting a great example!  At last some nation who’s willing to try.  We should all be so brave, but since we cannot change the whole world at the same time, let them be the leaders in the attempt to see if it is possible, and THANK them for trying!  Ok, so even if it causes more fossil fuel use during the transition, let’s support their effort, let it be an incentive for all other nations to move forward.  There is no perfect way to get off fossil fuels.

    • Anonymous

      Actually, I assume they will only shut down the nuclear plants as sustainable plants come on line; I don’t see why their shut down could not be delayed if problems arise. They obviously are NOT going to admit defeat before they start and they shouldn’t!

  • D Docwww

    What about using Thorium????
    Uranium was used instead of Thorium because it resukted in the production of a nuclear weapon – plutonium.
    Convert to thorium which is readily abundant cheap and does not produce dangerous long-lived residuals such as plutonium.
    WWW

    • Anonymous

      And it can be used to “burn” uranium waste to shorter-lived isotopes, thereby relieving the world of the current waste problem!

  • Michiganjf

    Here you have a wealthy country… one of the only countries capable of underwriting an experiment that could literally save the planet if it proves to the world that alternative energy can power an advanced economy with current technology…and this at a critical juncture for the globe.

    This is what the U.S. should have begun work on 20 years ago, when our economy was running on all burners, but we were far too greedy, selfish, and self-interested, and instead squandered the wealth and oportunity on tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals and corporations.

    The whole world now suffers for American greed and short-sighted stupidity.

    • Anonymous

      When Rex Tillotson can retire from ExxonMobil with a package worth $675 MILLION after years of multi-million-dollar salaries and stock options, there is great incentive for those still at oil companies to do what it takes to have the same result when it comes their turn to “retire.”

  • Freeman

    Good Morning Tom;
                               Great program-though I must admit,I am confused :
    It is a know fact we “all die” so. What is the reason to destroy the “hand that feeds you” ( Our Environment ). Current movie being released ” The Last Mountain”; Robert Kennedy-Vs Energy; Nuclear disaster in Chynoble and Japan; Oceans are dying;Massey Energy legally killing people and on an on. What is wrong with adjusting societies to RESPECT their environment and control their economies with in the means for the welfare of ALL.
    Am I incorrect, that ALL natural resources are finite ? And what of the surprise the scienctist found  at Chynoble pertaining to Caesium ?

  • Frank Lee

    At the very least…. Germany is listening to its citizens.

    What a novel concept.

  • BHA in Vermont

    Unless there are known problems with the existing reactors in Germany, this is a knee jerk reaction of no value.

    There will be no Tsunamis in Germany, perhaps not even big earthquakes. What happened in Japan is not directly related to the viability of MOST existing reactors because the same environmental conditions do not exist.

    Keep the nuclear reactors while ramping up the renewables. Let them close when they are no longer needed.

    • Worried for the country(MA)

      Right on!

  • SamG

    I haven’t heard any discussion of energy efficiency’s role in the low-carbon, low-nuclear economy

  • Steve

    I am part of the design/construction industry in the US.

    Buildings and construction consume a bigger amount of energy than people know.  Europe, Canada, and even China are far more forward thinking than the US (alternate energy, passive construction…)
    Even the LEED system in the US, which is an attempt to help make buildings more “sustainable”, is a tool encumbered by politics and back-slapping self congratulation.
     
    The economic system (tax laws, oligarchic manipulation of the tax code, ect…) in the US has hampered the move to safer, more eliable energy.

  • Mel

    Another apologist for the nuclear industry who pronounces it “nucular.”  (Or is it always the same “expert”?)

    • Terry Tree Tree

      AMAZING how many prominent proponents of nuclear power, cannot even pronounce it correctly.  Wonder if they endorse their checks for their ‘expert’ support correctly?  There are so many hidden costs, and subsidies to nuclear power, I wonder what the actual cost is?   How many Wind Turbines and Solar Panels could be bought for the price of one nuclear power plant?  How much faster could they be producing electricity?  How many square miles of the earth are wasted due to the problems of nuclear versus Wind and Solar?  Do the people that see no problem with it, live in it? Or are they just more GREEDY hypocrites?

      • Worried for the country(MA)

        Who?  Jimmy Carter?

  • Anonymous

    Inertial storage proven works pump water uphill…

  • Joe in Philly

    Guten Morgen from Philly! 
    Why isn’t the US embracing the type of initiatives as Germany? Two words: vested interests. Let’s set a bold goal for alternative energy, clear the road blocks, and unleash the incredible creativity that is still our greatest resource! If the Germans can do it, with their limited natural resource base, the US can certainly do it.

    • Anonymous

      To achieve that a lot of Republicans will have to lose in the next election. Democrats in the House passed a comprehensive cap and trade bill that would have put the U.S. on just that path; but then the Democrats in the Senate saw the “Tea Party revolt” at their constituent meetings on health care and got totally freaked out and decided not to go there.

      How do you make them have some spine? Show in polls a strong support for ANYONE who supports a transition to clean energy and a total rejection of opponents. That will make anyone elected a supporter and one who will vote for what we need.

      What we have in Congress is a bunch of John Birchers and CCCers who do not have the nation’s future well-being in mind, but a bunch of conservative social issues at the fore. The House Republicans have pushed FOUR (4) antiabortion bills and are only NOW coming out with a “jobs policy” which basically is their usual rant: tax cuts and more deregulation (I guess another financial crisis is what is needed to restore jobs and decrease unemployment!) 

      Unemployment REDUCTION is the NUMBER ONE priority of most Americans and is a NECESSARY CONDITION for deficit reduction! Not sufficient, but necessary!

      • Joe in Philly

        Amen, brother! Regarding political change, the problem here is complex: (i) those with wealth will support the status quo tooth and nail; (ii) those in the middle-class are too busy eking out a living and in a constant state of fear to pay off their (now) underwater mortgages, pay their medical expenses, and put their kids through school, to get involved; (iii) the underclass is incapable of organizing. How can we expect to have change under these conditions?

  • Joachim111

    Germany not only shows that a country can prosper if if does not engage permanently in foreign wars and tries to govern other countries because of its greed and need for foreign oil. Germany is leading the European countries economically even during this recession, it also has shown that it can transform a country from the old coal industries and the sickening environment during the post war era into a thriving and high standard living environment. In this country people need to travel to Stuttgart which documents Solar power to an infrastructure with high speed trains. America must go a long way to catch up and Germany will show that it will be a leader of new energies for which we will pay high prices because nobody in this country felt the need to pursue. I would hope states like Massachusetts would lead and develop to show that we not only care for the people with healthcare but also with healthy environments and liveable “healthy” communities.

  • Anonymous

    It is said that JP Morgan stopped Tesla from developing wireless power because it would be hard to put a meter on it. That is why they want centralized power like nuclear instead of decentralized solar or wind.

    • Joachim111

      Greed is what holds this country back and the banks have shown us that they have interest in building a successful society but only their profits and so if Government is taking the lead, banks certainly have no vision or entrepreneurship to develop a new society.

  • christine, vermont

    We live in larger, less efficient home, drive more, are addicted to appliances that use fossil fuel- people even more apt to blow their drive than sweep. Germany is far ahead of us in many ways in conservation.
    Wonder if their is a future in smaller nuclear plants- if a floating city of 5,000 plus that is an aircraft carrier can be powered by nuclear fuel why not smaller plants?
    How can we as citizens learn to think the cost benefit analysis of various types of fuel? Seems to me that their is risk in each one.

  • Cabmanjohnny

    Germany will do this replacement in their set time frame. They do have a long history of new innovation and making do will less resources. Unlike the United States, Germany in not impeded by having to vet major energy policy through the filters of corporate/ bankster Congressional relations and whichever Goldman Sachs roaches are in the WH cabinet.

  • William

    Charles said, dismissively, “of course we should pursue renewables as fast as possible, but…” then went on to contradict that statement at every turn, including the head scratcher “why isn’t Germany helping Poland utilize it’s oil shale?” Maybe he claims to be an ‘all of the above guy’.  The “all of the above” strategy is a copout and excuse for subsidizing fossil fuel. If we never prioritize renewables, we never prioritize renewables.  Ebinger has a very impressive resume, but based on his alleged thinking, I’d like to know where he and the Brookings energy policy guys are getting funding. And yes, I suspect somewhere, neatly tucked away, is big oil and coal. I know it seems aggressive to ask such things, but we’ve reached that stage – based on what we already know. It’s fine to put the question “who’s paying?” to all guests, beyond their titular, overt associations. That way, no one is picked on – but we need to know.

    • Hbdansby

      William, I had the same thought. Ebinger was just a bit too animated for objectivity. 

  • Anonymous

    Nuclear Power is like America’s foreign policy too complex by far and fatally flawed. Great for the salesmen not so good for the customer. Doesn’t matter if it works the right people are getting rich on it.

    • malafide

      None. The last ~10 years we always exported a lot of power to France consistently.
      Additionally, when it’s cold in Winter France has to tell their citizens not to use power for heating since the rivers are frozen and the plants can’t be cooled. If it’s summer and hot they have to tell their citizens not to use air condition since the rivers don’t have enough water to cool the plants.
      Right now, 8 of the 17 existing german power plants are powered down and we still don’t need to import.

  • Jeffreysc

    How much electricity does Germany get from French nuclear plants?  Are they getting off of this?

  • http://www.facebook.com/kraig.richard Kraig Richard

    What is not as scary looking as a cooling tower but every bit as ugly as a billboard? A solar farm built next to a road blocking a scenic view of a field and woods.  True harmonious alternative energy projects need take aesthetics and appropriateness into account. For instance, if instead of roof top solar collectors, grid like arrays actually do require placement in high value greenscapes, then these projects deserve architectural genius displayed in their execution…. particularly if they are getting any form of subsidization. There’s no reason they cant be art.
    An even darker side of Alternative Energy ?….Investigation into parameters by which subsidized projects are awarded would be a great story.. Various fiduciary mechanics often structure that investments into projects often be not the most modern or highest efficiency but have faster ROI’s… projects such as non tracking solar farms.

    • Worried for the country(MA)

      You hit it.  Despite its many shortcomings, the beauty of nuclear power is it takes up so little space (including the waste).

      All nuclear waste from all 104 reactors in the US generated from their startup 40 years ago can fit into a single Best Buy store.  Also, 95% of the energy is still contained in this waste waiting to be exploited by new generation plants.  After which, the waste will be reduced 10 fold.

      • Pancake

        Exclusion zones are small?

        • Worried for the country(MA)

          Yup, that’s the problem if containment is breached.  Look at the evacuation of Japan.  No health risks but major disruption.

  • Anonymous

    Here’s a video that shows how Germany is already moving to renewable energy:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNZgjEDPe24

    Renewable energy is the *only* way we can have energy into the future — all “old” carbon fuels are finite, and nuclear makes a complete mess.

    Germany and others are showing us the way: we need to put in a WWII type effort, and put all idle production lines to work building wind turbines, solar PV and solar heat systems, wave power systems, tidal power machines, etc.  We need to move to biomass fuels, like methane and biodiesel.

    If Germany can do it, then we can certainly do it here in the USA.

    Neil

    • Anonymous

      We need a Manhatten-like project to find a way to replace fossil and nuclear power. But until that time we need energy. Which energy do you want until something other than wind and solar power is discovered. Tell me where we will put solar and wind power in Japan that will provide them with enough energy to replace their nuclear and fossil fueled power plants?

      • Anonymous

        Solar can go on rooftops, over parking lots, along highways.  Wind can go off shore, on the edges of fields, in the middle of fields; because a lot of farming can coexist with wind turbines.

        Don’t forget about wave power — there are at least three companies that already make these.  They simply float in the ocean, and they move up and down in the swells and waves — and they produce electricity from that motion.  One system is buoys; about 60 of them in an array, and that array can produce 10MW.  Another type of wave power machine is five sections of 100′ long steel tubes that are hinged; and when they bend at the hinges, this pumps hydraulic fluid into accumulators, and then they run hydraulic motors on the pressure that spins generators.  Each one of these machines produces ~0.75MW.

        Japan is islands, so wave power — and tidal power could be a large part of their electricity production.

        Also, geothermal heat is very close to the surface in Japan — they can boil water with that heat, easily.

        Biomass is another renewable energy source: waste plant material and animal waste can be used to produce methane; and the leftover material makes great organic fertilizer.  So, we get energy and we can avoid the use of oil and gas in our agriculture, too.

        Almost all the energy we have on this Earth comes from the sun.  The thing we need to do is collect the “newer” sunshine, and depend less on the ancient sunshine.

        Neil

  • Worried for the country(MA)

    Washington Post today writes a scathing analysis of Germany’s stupidity.
    WP thesis is how damaging Germany’s decision will be for CO2 emissions and climate change. LOL

    “Germany’s Nuclear Blunder”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/germanys-nuclear-energy-blunder/2011/05/31/AGjjGkGH_story.html

    • Joachim111

      But then the Washington Post knows, ha?
      Republicans, never able to learn or make the right moves. One foot ahead and two back.

      • Worried for the country(MA)

        Republican, huh?  WP editorial board is solidly Democrat.

        • Anonymous

          Don’t I wish! The EB is led by Fred Hiatt, a retred from the WSJ editorial page, and while he occasionally reverses himslf and says something smart on AGW or economics, by the next week or sooner, he is carrying water for the Republicans. And a leaky container that is!

        • Anonymous

          WP editorial board = intelligence, something foreign to the Republican Tea Party

      • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3ETFGMQ3B7VD4AAMILBBEVMCWE JasonA

        For Republicans it is:  One half step ahead, 1 step to their favorite lobbyist, then 10 steps to the bank. The Republican party is a criminal organization whose only goal is to enrich itself, and its corporate benefactors. All at the expense of the middle class. Trials and hangings should be our first agenda in DC.

        • Anonymous

          Amen brother—- Business + Lobbyists + Money = Republicans

          • Mill

            And the Democrats? Angels who take zero money from corporations? As usual, the delusional partisans are out in full force, pimping their political party as the clean one, irrespective of facts.

          • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3ETFGMQ3B7VD4AAMILBBEVMCWE JasonA

            Actually both parties are completely corrupt and on the take for corporate cash. Citizens United has added gasoline to the flame of corruption…sadly.

            In my humble opinion, I would rank the Republican party as a 9.5 on a 10 point corruption scale. I would put the Democrat party at a 9.0 on that same scale. I work for a Fortune 500 company and know first hand how we buy off both.

            The Democrats seem to have a bit more humanity to them. The Republicans make no secret of their corporate allegiance, their love of money, power and war however. I have been a life long independent, and never swallow party line propaganda.

          • Sam Wilson

            I wonder why no one from the Free Market champion quotes Governing Dynamics, a real Capitalism definitely needs the principles of Governing Dynamics

          • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3ETFGMQ3B7VD4AAMILBBEVMCWE JasonA

            I have idea what you are saying…

            Real capitalism..meaning unregulated = economic slavery.

          • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3ETFGMQ3B7VD4AAMILBBEVMCWE JasonA

            You got it.  I would suggest a few changes:

            Business without regulation and NO social conscience + Lobbyists who lack any morality or decency + Unlimited payoff money = An extremist criminal enterprise which sells itself as the Republican party.

    • Anonymous

      Anyone who references The Breakthrough Institute (TBI) is almost certainly spreading misleading data. It is interesting how groups that want to run down something make their own assumptions about how it will work and choose them to throw the worst light possible on the project.

      An shale oil requires the use of a gallon of oil for every gallon to gallon and a half of “dirty shale oil.” Plus it requires gallons of water which it contaminates in the process of turning the solid shale gunk into flowing “oil.”

      Again, if Germany runs behind in its timeline, I see no reason the life of the nuclear reactors could be extended for a year or two. In the scheme of things, that would not matter. As has been said by others above, the most important thing is to get the conversion started as soon as possible.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3ETFGMQ3B7VD4AAMILBBEVMCWE JasonA

    While all the supporters of nuclear energy flap their gums…not one person or nation has come up with a safe and viable way to dispose of the toxic waste. They do not even know how to warn people, assuming there are any, that in 10,000 years this stuff is still toxic.

    How anyone can discuss using nuclear energy, with such high and ecologically dangerous costs, and be taken seriously is a mystery to me.

    Germany is to be commended for its bold move. While in the USA the nuclear industry will trot out its lobbyists, and pay off the corrupt Congress (even more), and nothing will be done.

    • Johnleewhite

      Go to Wiki and look at breeder reactors, DA

      • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3ETFGMQ3B7VD4AAMILBBEVMCWE JasonA

        If you have something to say, say it here. I am not an errand boy.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JU6I56OJSUNSPAERKMZUXL7ZHU Justin Greyson

        If it so easy why is it going nowhere? Why is Yucca Mountain DOA?

  • Anonymous

    The Japanese are not going to be able to perform much magic with Solar or Wind given their limited terrain and enormous consumption of energy. Nuclear power will remain in place until someone comes up with a significant advance in solar capture, harnessing the oceans energy or converting water into H2 and O2. That said—my hat is off to the Germans, who with nowhere near our resources and territory, are committing themselves to a worthy if not daunting exploration.
     As far as storing toxic waste—remove the politics and lawyers so it can be stored in any number of desolate places here in the USA, Canada and Asia. If we humans could find the “space” to murder over 7 million  helpless civilians in Germany and well over that number in Russia, I would think we could find storage for the debris that supports the wonders of electrical power world wide.

    • Anonymous

      Actually, MIT scientists proposed shipping it all to an old military airfield in the “desert” Southwest, where it could be guarded just as the old B-52s are. Then when thorium reactors or some other process comes along, the isotopes could be “burned” to shorter-lived isotopes.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JU6I56OJSUNSPAERKMZUXL7ZHU Justin Greyson

        You bet…and when the aliens land and give us their pollution free, limitless power secrets all will be well.

    • Lava

      Has someone explored dropping nuclear waste in an active/semi-active volcano? All that waste will mix in with the molten lava and be one with it (how zen!), thus bypassing the problems associated with storing it.

      • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3ETFGMQ3B7VD4AAMILBBEVMCWE JasonA

        Yes indeed, all we need is a really big spoon.

  • david

    If Japan had not had a massive earthquake and tsunami, we would not be having this conversation!
    What if!!!!
    Our world can only deliver a certain level of energy resource and human ability to produce it?
    Given, the movies always show the population running on seemly endless energy yet, that is just a fantasy.
    Alternative fuel ideas have been in the works for decades, none have proven good enough to replace what we have. That said, there is no reason not to explore but! don’t panic the populance with doomsday senarios inorder to move the word “BIG” from one provider to another.
    Believe it or not, oil and gas did not come from dinosaurs!!
    Oil is a by-product of a reaction taking place beneath us. It is a renewable resource. Where it collects is the problem.
    Imagine if all vehicles got 30+ mpg and everybody would turn off their lights when not needed how much we would save. Move around in the big cities and see how much electricity is being used just to dazzle people!
    If Germany can pull this off and the resource is there, great! But! if the resource is limited and cannot be produced, they are in BIG trouble.

  • Anonymous

    Germany should look to thorium reactors as an alternative to scrapping their entire nuclear generation capability. Thorium is much safer, is “melt down proof” and the residue from the process is by far less radioactive. In fact, China and India are pursuing this technology right now. If it wasn’t for the short sighted political process in the US, we would also be on the right track to fail safe nuclear reactor designs with thorium. More needs to be said about this technology.

  • Sandra Ganey

    All countries could cut their energy consumption drastically by adopting a vegetarian diet.

    • quadraticus

      We could also cut our energy consumption drastically by euthanizing everyone over the age of 60. As a 35 year old omnivore, I would find this less objectionable than outlawing meat consumption.

  • Jstang112

    The global community should not only be grateful to Germany for actually taking a necessary step but should be supporting the effort. Not only is the scientific community in agreement about climate change but nuclear energy is one of the worst advancements ever made. When you see the exponential growth in technology I think the problem with storing the energy is possible.  Even if you don’t think it will happen I don’t understand why someone would discourage the effort. The U.S. could probably do it if they could figure out how to privatize the sun and wind.

  • N Fabian

    question: Is the new law only subsidizing solar and wind power or is it open to other renewalbes or new energies?

  • Shawn Solich

    All the Alternative Energy plans are inadequate to supply the energy needed for Germany. Germany will use more coal and oil. Making States like West Virginia  very happy.

  • Paul Halsey

    Courageous move by the German people! Bridging the potential energy gap will require creative public and private policies. The worlds’s largest accessible source of renewable energy is 2500 km to the west, Iceland. Sensible policy collaboration within the EEA could incent energy intensive industries to take advantage of places like Iceland and ease the transition to a post carbon economy.

  • Lefty2303

    Hey North America:  How about we just change the way we live.  Its either transformation now or revolution in the futures.  Choose.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3ETFGMQ3B7VD4AAMILBBEVMCWE JasonA

      And revolution is closer than anyone thinks. The US government is corrupt to the core and broken beyond repair.

  • Bkurple

    Ditch the huge plants and what not go to distributed nuclear plants- the same type used by the military to power our navy. One of the plants used on a air carrier could supply a city of 60,000 for 20 years. These can be built in a factory, no need for an extensive power grid and no huge concentration of nuclear fuel

  • David Earnshaw

    I am encouraged to see some comments about Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors. (LFTR)  Up until LFTR, I was an adamant opponent of nuclear power, but, after learning about LFTR I am convinced that this is the way to go. It literally solves all the problems with nuclear power as it now is used. 

    • Anonymous

      What is wrong with the Great Fusion Reactor in the Sky?  It’s already built at a safe distance.

      Neil

  • Johnleewhite

    I heard one of your commenters being concerned about a nuc 35 miles
    West of N Y city being a problem for the city. DAH , if the tsunami
    Got to the plant, everyone in NY would already be dead!
    My problem with your show is stupid comments get undue
    Credit. I am an engineer for a major energy producer based in
    Germany and I think the basis of this crap is Germany does
    Not have a manufacturer of nuculear plants. Hence they want to
    Go green. It isn’t going to work. Period.

  • Rebelflower

    I simply do not trust the critics of Germany’s choice, to NOT be PERSONALLY concerned about losing money from society’s pull away from fossil fuels.  They can not reason with the idea of “A GREATER GOOD.”  It is the same distrust of the tea party demonstrators from the summer over the Obama health care overhaul. I believe they were all administrators of hospitals(or the like), people who stand to PERSONALLY lose money.  I feel the educated part of the Republican party is simply inhuman and short sighted, Ayn Rand..etc.  The uneducated part is racist, petty and of course, uneducated so they can not see they are often times shooting themselves in the FACE, not the foot.  They can not see we are all connected.  They just can not see it.

    And ironically, I, the granddaughter of a WWII vet, am married to a German National.  I see the psychological aftermath of deep seeded remorse.  Everyday, I witness the ever-so-careful and delicate “German Modern Day Pride.” AKA Walking on a grass lawn while trying not to hurt it!  I think one can argue that Germany has gone beyond just apologizing for the crimes of WWII with this decision this week.  (I have so many Jewish friends, making this feeling very tender.)  The attempt to set a future model of energy independence is a humanitarian move to the highest order.  We ALL live on earth.  We all HAVE TO share it.  Liberals are underestimating the sincere hatred and insanity of our right wing friends of the US.  I ask you this?  When do you know the extremists have gone toooo far? I am fascinated by pre-Nazi Germany, not the war years, but what LEAD TO those years is most interesting.  I am looking very hard at my Governor in Wisconsin, Scott Walker.  I am a biracial woman in Milwaukee, the most segregated city of the USA.  I feel the hatred and racism from the “RED C”,a thin red line that represents the white flight of suburban communities out of the central city districts, around Milwaukee ( …ALSO, the only part of the STATE to still stomach a vote for McCain/Palin in 08.  It is full of money and hatred.  They want gated communities, private everything, imagine private snow plowers to get them to work from Pewaukee(45min) to Miwaukee’s downtown 100% corner?  They want the worst part of Mexico?  Wisconsin is for sale and the people no longer own it!  (It is terrible to observe my great state, WI… nose dive.)America seems more and more like an unresolved Civil War.  Ironically Germany 60+ years after WWII, seems like a better country.  I think it is because they KNOW humility. And we, on the other side of the pond, have no shame.  

  • CR

    Germany has a proud history of achievement going back a millenium.  That said, they also have a nasty history of giving in to national psychosis (Weimar inflation, the 1933-1945 horrors, the Greens insisting on removal of the very US forces that kept the Soviets across the eastern border).  This is another such moment.  There is no possible way that a goal of 80% power generation from “renewables” can be reached at all in Germany, never mind in 11 years.  There is not nearly enough wind and sun to replace the TeraWatts of power generation needed.  The only conceivable way of eliminatinig nuke power through increased use of fossil fuel.  This has the benefit of being realistic as, according to articles I have read, geological formations exist in Germany and neighboring countries similar to the Marcellus Shale in the northeastern US which is currently producing natural gas via hydraulic fracturing.  If Germany were to “frack” the relevant formations they could end up producing enough natural gas to offset the loss of nuclear power.  This means, of course, that carbon emissions targets are off the table.

  • Ozzie

    Germany presents a cogent argument: the risk/benefit analysis is now beyond scientific theory (e.g., Japan).  The “odds are” argument looks pale in light of the reality of massive disaster in continuous forms.

  • Mike W.

    I am an American living in Germany and I was actually at the rally against nuclear energy in Munich last Saturday. It still excites me when I travel the country and see solar panels on many houses, people of all ages riding bikes to school and work, and excellent public transportation. I support Germany’s push to vastly expand renewable energy and I am equally excited to see the political energy shown by German citizens to build a safe and lasting future. Sadly, in the U.S. I only saw that type of energy when people were fighting tooth and nail against health care reform that would have helped the middle and lower class.

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