Good News

Angela Merkel on ending nuclear power plant sites in Germany:

ANDECHS, Germany (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday backed proposals to shut down all of the country’s 17 nuclear power plants within about a decade.

Speaking at a meeting of the Christian Social Union (CSU), Bavarian sister party to her conservatives, Merkel said a 2022 date proposed by the CSU was appropriate and that her government will eventually fix a date for Germany’s nuclear exit.

“I find that the timeframe which the CSU sees as an option is an appropriate timeframe,” she said at the event in Bavaria.

“People want to know there is a concrete end date and so we will speak of such a concrete end date,” Merkel added. Her cabinet plans to make a decision on June 6.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    I’m not sure why this is “good news.” So the German people will either increase their reliance on fossil fuel energy or go back to a pre-industrial society.

    Barring some completely out-of-left-field advance in technology, “renewable, green” energy sources aren’t up to the task.

  • Rick

    I had the same thoughts as ChrisB #1.

  • DocGee

    Would the person making this post mind sharing their reasoning for thinking that pulling the plug on nuclear power.

  • RJS

    I didn’t write the post or the article, but the reason it would be considered good news is obvious. Japan and Chernobyl leap to mind.

    That said it is certainly true that there are real costs and “green” alternatives are not there yet.

  • smcknight

    Yes, nuclear power has frightening catastrophic possibilities and may well keep us from pursuing sun and wind … and water … natural, green powers.

  • Richard

    Its good news that people continue to panic over nuclear energy while using vast amounts of coal and natural gas to imbalance the ecosystem and cause superstorms?

  • Richard

    Wait, on the list of nuclear disasters, why aren’t we discussing Three-Mile Island? Oh, the fail-safe procedures and properly maintained equipment worked…

  • Joe Canner

    Japan’s problems were caused by earthquakes; Chernobyl was run by the communist Soviet Union. If Germany can’t do better than that then we’re all in trouble.

    I hope there is more to this plan than what is reported here regarding the use of other green energy sources. Without that half of the equation this doesn’t qualify as “good news”.

  • Nakamura

    “Green”alternatives may not be there yet, but you don’t want to wait to unplug nuclear power until something as devastating as what’s currently happening in Japan. It’s a total disaster. People there are living in fear and anger, especially worrying about their children’s future.

    But Japan is seriously considering to go “green” and making plans.
    http://www.tokyotimes.jp/post/en/1890/Softbank+s+Masayoshi+Son+to+build+10+solar+power+plants.html

  • Ryan

    It does not follow Scot that nuclear power will keep us from pursuing green alternative energy. Besides wind and solar are decades away from being able to provide more than just a single digit percentage of our nations power needs. I like the idea, but the actuality is mostly a pipe dream right now.

    I also am with Chris B and note that it is hardly good news to want to give up nuclear power. The biggest energy source used in the USA right now is coal. Coal has caused FAR more deaths and health illnesses than all the nuclear accidents combined. The move from coal to nuclear would be a massive upgrade for both our environment and the safety of workers.

    Also by the logic of citing past accidents as a reason to not pursue nuclear is also a bit off base. It would be like Henry Ford sidelining the automobile because the model T had some design flaws and accidents. The objective is actually to learn from those accidents and move forward.

  • Daniel

    Time to get those coal plants working at capacity.

  • rjs

    Available nuclear and fossil fuel sources most certainly do keep us from efficient pursuit of “green” alternatives. All of these decisions are influenced heavily by economics because the research and development of any green source is heavily manpower and resource dependent.

    It gets to the distinction between motivation and discipline on yesterday’s post.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    I’m with Joe in 8, if the Germans don’t think they can design and run those things right then we all better get out of the business now.

  • moruti lutz

    .congratulations! finally

  • Ryan

    Where is the proof of your claim rjs?

    As someone who has been an active investor in the energy industry for years, I will tell you that there is no grand conspiracy to stop green energy.

    It is just not viable or profitable. There is a ton of R&D going on right now, but as I said before the large scale viability of wind and solar is decades away.

    Big oil companies like Exxon, Conoco, and Chevron have all been diversifying in the last couple years into natural gas, they have no long term devotion to oil, and if wind or solar was viable they would pour the hundreds of billions of dollars they have into it.

  • rjs

    Ryan,

    No, of course there is no grand conspiracy to stop green energy. And there is active research in the field. I have friends down the hall (even in the office next door) working on these problems.

    Nonetheless there is not the motivation for a truly concerted effort…it is not cost effective. If the need was dire the resources and effort would be much larger.

  • m

    I also fail to see the good news in this headline. It seems to me that this is less good news than a reactionary decision.

    A man in the church that I pastor works in a high-level position at a nuclear facility. He tells me that two things are true: 1) the safety standards in the US are very different and more stringent than Japan.

    2) this accident will change the nuclear power industry approach to safety forever — just like TMI did in the US.

    Wouldn’t it be a better approach to say that the technology isn’t the issue, its the approach to safety with the technology that’s the issue?

  • rjs

    m,

    Nuclear will certainly be safer because of all that is learned in Japan. Certainly air travel is safer because of all that is learned in each successive accident.

    With something like nuclear power we always have to ask whether the risk of a nuclear meltdown is worth the benefit because there is no way to guarantee that there will be no unforeseen scenario. The risk will never be zero and the consequences are significant.

  • Matt Edwards

    I don’t buy the argument that nuclear power is keeping us from developing green energy technology. That’s like saying advances in chemotherapy are keeping us from finding a cure for cancer. Nuclear power is a band-aid. We still haven’t figured out what to do with the by-product, but it’s better than coal or oil. There is a fortune to be made in green energy technology and whoever makes it work will become the next economic superpower.

    Nuclear power will always suffer from the “freak out” factor. There have only been three major accidents in the past 40 years, but the thought of being exposed to radiation is so horrific that people freak out whenever something happens. That’s not to downplay what happened in Japan, but how have the downsides to nuclear power compared to the downsides to fossil fuels?

  • rjs

    Matt Edwards,

    No it is more like saying demand and potential profit keep the effort on the large impact diseases and away from the “orphan drug” market. But this isn’t a good analogy either.

    There is a fortune to be made in green energy technology, but it is a very long range payout. Most industries are on a much shorter payout schedule and the government puts money where the pressure is. With Obama a great deal of money was put into basic energy research at the University level that was simply not available under Bush. No one is sure what will happen in two years.

  • Ryan

    RJS,

    I am just curious though what your thoughts are on more people dying in the production of coal than nuclear? Do you also believe we should shut down all coal mines immediatly?

    I am with you completely in that I want a safe, abundant, clean energy source, but I just think we are still decades away. And in the mean time we have to choose between the options that are viable right now.

  • RobS

    I saw one web site suggesting Germany was building 10 coal fired plants. No doubt more modern and cleaner than old ones, but still adding 25% more CO2 to the air out of Germany… a pretty big step up for a country that does have some written goals about cutting emissions.

    Yeah if the Western Europeans that are doing the nuclear thing with success are giving up… where does that leave the rest of us?

  • Kenny Johnson

    I’m going to jump on the bandwagon here and say that I also fail to see this as good news. Seems unjustly reactionary to me.

  • Tim

    This is not “Good News.”

    Yes, nuclear power has the potential for catastrophic consequence, but are options aren’t so great right now, and the risks really are manageable. Anyone who thinks that are massive energy demands can be met on a reasonable (within even 30 years) by renewable energy is living in a fantasy.

    By leveraging ALL available technology, we might, just might be able to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel and do some good for our environment with respect to man-made climate change. But Nuclear Power needs to be a critical part of the equation. We should be building plants as fast as we can, not decommissioning the ones we already have.

  • http://www.virtuphill.blospot.com phil_style

    I’m currently working on a project to build 7MW wind turbines, these will be the largest turbines ever built, with blade radii of 80m, sitting atop towers more than 100m from the water surface. The technology is there in many cases, it’s a cost issue that is the main hinderance at the moment.

    The main benefit of nuclear energy is its base-load function. It takes alot of effort to turn NPPs on and off, so you keep them running all the time to provide a baseload. You obviously need to plan the generation capacity so the baseload sits just beneath the trough of your demand curve. Too many NPPs and you actually run into the problem of having too much power and no where to send it.

    Renewables (wind, solar) are unfortunately intermittent, but their main benefit (economically) is that their power has almost zero marginal cost. Almost all the cost associated with renewables is capital. Renewables MUST be first priority in the generation mix, because they produce the cheapest marginal energy. Hydro is different, because it can generally (except during drought) provide a baseload like nuclear.

    thermal Coal/gas/oil fired plants are ideal for peaking performance. You can turn them up and down with relative ease compared to other generation. As the demand peaks, you ramp up your fuel burning, and vice versa as demand drops. There’s a few hours lag though as the kit warms up, so you need to anticpate demand somewhat. But generators have loads of data to predict this.

    So Germany’s problem if they turn off the nukes will be sourcing their baseload… they’ll probably have to opt for a thermal/renewables mix, with the thermals running baseload AND peaking, within a flexible grid that can prioritise the renewables as soon as they start generating.

  • Rick in TX

    A. Like many others I failed to see the goodness of this news.

    B. Richard #6 “Its good news that people continue to panic over nuclear energy while using vast amounts of coal and natural gas to imbalance the ecosystem and cause superstorms?”

    Is that why we use vast amounts of coal and natural gas; “to imbalance the ecosystem and cause superstorms”? Silly me, I thought we used them for our cars and homes. At least, that’s why I use vast amounts of coal and natural gas. (Actually, my home is powered by Texas windfarms) But seriously – anthropogenic causation for the storms last week? “We’d all love to see the plan”.

  • AHH

    If one believes (as I do) that science is correct in telling us that burning fossil fuels is pushing our climate in bad directions, then this is bad news. There can be legitimate debate about whether building new nuclear plants is good stewardship, and about increasing the safety measures of existing plants.

    But to shut down plants that are operating safely, far from any earthquake or tsunami zone, is borderline insane. This will necessarily delay the closure of old, less efficient coal plants, which is a bad thing. And/or the French, the Romanians, etc. will build more nuclear plants to fill most of the gap in demand.

  • Richard

    @ 26

    Good catch on my typo Rick, we don’t do those things to cause them, we do those things and they cause these results. It’s not a conspiracy theory and I didn’t intend it to be one.

    It is cause and effect though. And there’s very little debate about pollution from fossil fuels throwing our ecosystems and personal health out of whack.

  • Jerry

    I’m a bit late to this discussion, but I would say more are going to die from all the coal fired plants than our nukes. People fear what they don’t understand. This post says more about the miserable state of science education in America than anything else.