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.
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?