Fraunhofer Institute Director: “Energy Supply System Must Return Above Ground – Just Like 200 Years Ago”

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Der Spiegel has a report here today on what an accelerated shutdown of all 17 German nuclear reactors by 2020 would mean.

Germany was spooked by the nuclear disaster in Japan, all fueled by turbo-hysteria from its media. In a knee-jerk reaction, unmatched by no other country in the world, Angela Merkel’s coalition government ordered 7 of the country’s reactors be shut down immediately. Now activists are demanding the shutdown of all reactors.

This, of course, is easier said than done. Who or what would step in to fill in the 20.8 gigawatt gap?

Half of Germany covered by solar panels

In a nutshell, this would be horribly expensive, and ugly. Der Spiegel looks at what Germany would look like if it converted over to mainly renewables such as solar, wind and biogas by 2020 in place of the nuclear reactors. This is how Der Spiegel describes it:

The dream of a rapid shutdown of nuclear reactors is technically possible. But it would have a high price.

First of all it would profoundly alter the landscape of Germany.

In the 2020 scenario, the current status quo of wind and solar would be multiplied many times over: 46 gigawatts of wind energy, 52 gigawatts of photovoltaic and 8 gigawatts of biomass – quasi half of Germany would be paved with solar panels. Huge rotors would litter the landscape. On fields, there would be a questionable monoculture of bioenergy plants.”

So why does all this massive government intervention and state-controlled energy remind us of Soviet style central-panning? The consequences certainly threaten to be the same: an abject failure and bankruptcy.

Not only would this trash and ruin Germany’s once idyllic countryside, but it would probably bankrupt he country too. According to Der Spiegel stopping nuclear and switching over to  a hodge-podge of unsteady renewables would first require an investment of € 245 billion just to build up the needed equipment and infrastructure. Then consumers would also have to bear much higher electricity rates.

Lack of acceptance

Der Spiegel also looks at the problem of dwindling acceptance of renewable energy due to consumers’ displeasure with their rising electric bills and the scourge to the landscape they represent. Der Spiegel:

Indeed large wind turbines are again and agin met with fierce protest. And even the most green-blooded environmentalists fly into rages because of the growing corn monoculture.

Windmills and solar systems have short lifetimes

Unfortunately, Der Spiegel and the eco-masterminds also seem to have failed to notice another costly factor: operating lifetimes. While lifetimes of 40 years are not uncommon for coal and nuclear power plants, they are much shorter for renewable energy systems. 20 years is already a pipe dream.

This all means everything would have to be replaced soon, and again at a huge cost. Let’s not forget the higher maintenance costs as well.

Back to 200 years ago

But costs have never discouraged the eco-masterminds in their pursuit of their goals. People can be brainwashed into accepting them, at least that’s what Michael Sterner, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy Systems Technology (IWES) and advisor to the federal government, seems to think:

The acceptance for renewable energy must be urgently increased. Because of climate change, resource shortages and the atomic catastrophe, people have to be made aware that our energy supply system must return back above ground – just like it always was 200 years ago.”

The irony of the Japan earthquake is that in the end Germany may be the country that winds up with the most damage. Not because of the tsunami per se, but because of a tsunami of technical and economic blindness.

200 years back? That would be about right.

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UPDATE: I’d also like to remind the taxpayer-subsidised Fraunhofer Institute how energy needs were met 200 years ago. Have they ever wondered what happened to all of Europe’s forests back then?

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16 responses to “Fraunhofer Institute Director: “Energy Supply System Must Return Above Ground – Just Like 200 Years Ago””

  1. R. de Haan

    No, we have much more people now than 200 years ago.
    Better think Medieval times.

    This Government is becoming a copy clone of the former DDR.
    Only it’s leaders are more stupid.

  2. DirkH

    I am constantly – and as a habit – comparing English language with German News – i am investing in German and American stock, that’s why. So ATM Fukushima gets most of the attention. Here’s a German headline abomination that’s worth to behold:
    “Die Situation im Atomkraftwerk Fukushima I steht auf der Kippe: Frühestens am Samstag kann mit notdürftig reparierten Starkstromleitungen die Kühlung der Reaktorblöcke 1 und 2 wieder aufgenommen werden – doch vielleicht ist es dann schon zu spät. Ganz Japan blickt momentan auf 140 Feuerwehrleute, die – ohne Rücksicht auf das eigene Leben – versuchen, den Super-GAU mit Löschwasser zu verhindern. Der verzweifelte Einsatz in der Strahlenhölle – ein Himmelfahrtskommando.

    Literal translation:

    The Situation at Fukushima is at a knife’s edge: Earliest on Saturday, with barely repaired High Power Lines can the cooling of reactor blocks 1 and 2 be taken up again, – but maybe it will already be too late. The whole of Japan looks onto the 140 firemen who – without regard to their own life – try to prevent the super accident (Super-GAU is literally the Super Greatest Assumable Accident – a ridiculous exaggeration; but ATM very frequently used in German Media – a Super-Superlative… the journalists use it without thinking about it. They should all be germanists by training… a very sorry state of our “language majors”) .
    The desperate mission in the radiation hell – a suicide commando.

    To give all the native English speakers a taste of what the state of journalism is in Germany. I cross-checked at the BBC, no stranger to alarmism, and found nothing of the kind.

    Source for the German hyperbole:
    http://nachrichten.t-online.de/atomkatastrophe-in-japan-feuerwehr-einsatz-in-der-strahlenhoelle/id_45071284/index

    My conclusion: Nuclear has no future in Germany; neither has journalism. People (even Germans) will disconnect from this drivel. I was in the pub today, with not particularly free-market people, and Fukushima was a by-theme… Even they don’t make much of it… (Yes i do socialize with pretty leftist people. You don’t have much choice in Germany and some of them have a profound knowledge of music. I like that.)

  3. DirkH

    Der Spiegel seems to be torn apart between doom-mongering (see the link i mentioned yesterday) and a desperate attempt of trying to assess the costs of a nuclear exit. They should make up their mind, or better yet, perish wholesale.

  4. DirkH

    An especially slimey excerpt from Der Spiegel’s excrement:
    “In Deutschland verursachen die Meldungen irrationale Panik. ”

    “In Germany, the reports cause irrational panic” – well, a lot of them come from Der Spiegel itself.
    http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/mensch/0,1518,751574,00.html
    “Zu sehen sind die völlig zerstörten Reaktoren der Atomanlage.”
    “We can see the completely destroyed reactors of the nuclear plant.”

    Well, it’s no wonder that some Germans show signs of irrational panic if DER SPIEGEL, DER MIGHTY SPIEGEL, publishes COMPLETELY INVENTED SHIT LIKE THAT.

  5. DirkH

    Reminds me of Saul Alinsky again. Create a crisis, exploit the crisis.

  6. DirkH

    “Those people who have fled Japan, taking long-distance flights to Europe or the US, have probably received larger radiation doses on their flights than if they had stayed where they were. (Natural radiation at flying altitude is significantly higher than at ground level).

    Neill Taylor, Aix en Provence, France


    found on
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12785274

  7. nofreewind

    Let’s not even consider the solar to replace 20 GW, that ‘s completely ridiculous.
    But 3,000 1.5 MW turbines operate at about 25% yearly average output to average a little over 1.1 GW. So to great 20GW you would only need 54,000 wind turbines.
    But, HA HA HA. The jokes on us, because about 10% of the time they won’t be creating energy at all, or only minimal energy. So unless we wanted blackouts (but they do), we would still need the full 20 GW of Nuclear or something else to work when there was only a trickle of energy coming from the wind turbines.

    Ireland has about 1250MW of wind turbines. Click previous 24 hrs or replace the date and go to 15/03/2011 and see for almost the entire day the output was 50MW average, or less than 5%. Maybe they need to build 250,000 turbines, that would do it on these 5% be done. It just takes political will. (and sacrifice too)
    http://www.eirgrid.com/operations/systemperformancedata/windgeneration/

    1. nofreewind

      no P Gosslin.
      3,700 turbines each 1.5MW at 18% = 1 Gigawatt per year average
      So multiply 3,700 times 20 = 74,000 is how many you would need. And as I said, you would still need the nuclear plant, because sometimes there is going to be minimal output, that’s why you need a 100% parallel conventional plant. Backup is a poor term, because backup implies the main source, wind, works most of the time, when in reality it needs a conventional plant to constantly follow its’ vagaries.

      And nuclear is a poor choice to follow the wind, because as we have just seen, it is quite hard to control the amount of heat emitted. You need natural gas, the expensive and fuel wasteful open cycle nat gas plants.

      1. nofreewind

        Since Germany has 137,000 square miles, this is only a little more than 2 per square mile! I think we can do it, we just have to have the political will, maybe we should try. At least the country would be truly green.

        1. Jimbo

          Scotland had a rude shock this winter when its winpower failed due to lack of wind and they were forced to buy in nuclear energy from France. Now imagine an overcast day during a bitterly cold day and demand shoots through the roof. All German nuclear power stations shut down. Then what?

    2. DirkH

      How much m^2 of PV does one need in Germany to generate, on average 20 GW?

      The numbers:
      about 1 kW/m ^2 insolation; 20% efficiency; 780 full sun hours per year (about 10% of the entire year). Gives an average output of 20 W/m^2.

      1 Giga m^2 or 1 billion m^2 or 1,000 km^2; or a square of 33 times 33 km.

      Two problems remain; energy storage and cost. But area is in fact not the problem.

  8. sara

    I never see any calculations or estimates of the amount of natural resources, (minerals and metals) that need to be dug up in order to construct all those wind mills and solar panels. It must be large amounts of land that will be completely destroyed and contaminated by extractive chemicals and heavy metals, also leaking into neighboring waters. Not to mention the energy costs of digging, extracting, processing, manufacturing and transporting the things. And what about the CO2? Production of concrete and steel are major sources of antropogenic CO2…

    1. Bernd Felsche

      The amount of steel for wind power is 4 to 5 times that for conventional (coal) power. The amount of concrete is 5 to 10 times greater, depending on where you’re setting up the wind turbines.

      1. Bernd Felsche

        I should have noted that it’s for the actual electricity generated. Not the nameplate “capacity”.

        But doesn’t include e.g. storage capacity to supply electricity when the wind isn’t blowing.

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