Addendum: I'm not against turning off nuclear power plants (I think we should eventually), I just don't agree with the time frame we chose for this. Letting plants run for a few more years wouldn't significantly increase cumulated accident risk and would have a significant effect on our CO2 emissions.
Coal power has been slow to phase out not because the power is needed, but because the coal industry is important, especially in some regions already suffering from the shifting economic fortune of heavy manufacturing. It being the initial core of german industrialisation, it also has an outsized social relevancy as a marker of identity among the labor class.
But for these reasons, Germany would have replaced all coal with renewable energy, French nuclear power, or natural gas generation one or two decades ago. That's still an emission source, but far less so than coal.
What we should have done is to really push renewable energy much sooner and in a more systematic way, then we could mostly be off nuclear and coal energy sources by now. The "Energiewende" politics of the Green party / SPD e.g. involving - among other things - large-scale subsidies on private photovoltaics plants wasn't really a viable strategy (IMHO) and more a way to hand good investment opportunities to upper middle-class / upper-class households (in the early days of solar subsidies people could earn more than 10 % interest rate, guaranteed over 10 years or longer).
The end of nuclear was decided and agreed long before that. Fukushima just made it clear to the remaining sceptic conservative party that that decision was right.
I like to think of it like car crashes vs. plane crashes. Plane crashes are much more publicized, and definitely cause more death/damage per occurrence than a car crash. But because there's so few of them, planes are still much safer overall than cars.
Not saying that it's a bad decision to turn off nuclear power plants, just saying the decision should be based on science not emotion.
If they knew how to be more logical, there wouldn't be a problem in the first place. They don't. And just saying you "should" is not enough. It doesn't enable them to be more logical.
Communication that produces better outcomes requires to put the focus on why the threat isn't a threat and STOP. There is no need to tell people, beyond that they are illogical in the way they are handling fear. Good communicators, with the skill to reduce threat perception of everyone in the room do it all the time. And they produce better outcomes.
For example, the ducts that vented hydrogen overpressure vented into the interior of the reactor building rather than outside. This lead to the explosions.
That once-in-200-years magnitude 6.5 earthquake is 400x less intense than the 2011 Japan earthquake. And yes, without a sea there is no tsunami risk.
France, Germany, and probably even the USA have much better cards to play. Heck, even China doesn’t trust itself that much in its nuclear power ambitions because of the huge cost corruption would bring.
Japan is just as technologically advanced as Germany, yet one of the nuclear plants, as predicted by Kraftwerk (the band), blew and fucked up the whole northern Pacific. Germany has had its technological disaster, for example Eschede, so don't think its powers plants to be 100% safe.
We still don't have a long-term storage solution for the nuclear waste produced by the power plants, and don't forget about waste from decomissioning the actual buildings, that's not the stuff you want to recycle for a road.
If a wind turbine is decomissioned, you simply strip it, melt it and make a better one.
Building a new nuclear power plant now is betting against a huge leap in battery technology. If that leap happens it's bye-bye for fossil fuels.
What now? The death toll from the Fukushima Daiichi failure is: up to 1.
> We still don't have a long-term storage solution for the nuclear waste produced by the power plants
Yes, we do. Put it in the side of a mountain. Nuclear waste has always been a political problem, not a technical one. The US already has a site picked, Yucca Mountain, and only NIMBYism has gotten in the way.
Actually all energy production has/creates 'political problems'. One has to deal with those, too. Otherwise claimed technical solutions will fail in the real world.
> not a technical one.
I don't believe that for a second. This is the overly optimistic view of technocrats or the industry.
Every single Windmill needs a massive foundation. Its not like you could put them into the ground like a toothpick. Here are some facts from a windfarming project which i've randomly chosen:
On average, each of these below-ground support systems used 60 truckloads of concrete (750 cubic yards)
Lafarge also supplied 20,000 tons of Type I cement for soil stabilization of approximately 44 miles of roads,...
I don't think it differs that much from any other.
Do you think that has  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruin_value ?
No. If anything, that has set back nuclear tech for a century, as the designs funded were designed for weapons manufacturing first, energy second. Nuclear is very convenient (very infrequent fuel shipments) and powerful. Which is why well-funded navies use it extensively. The US Navy, for instance, has a perfect track record, under much harsher conditions.
We do, actually. Breeder reactors. If it is energetic enough to pose a serious threat, it's energetic enough for fuel. Once we have extracted most of the useful energy, the waste is much less dangerous and can be dealt the same way we deal with other hazardous materials.
> If a wind turbine is decomissioned, you simply strip it, melt it and make a better one.
I don't think it is as simple as that. Source for this claim? Re-purposing for other applications I can buy
> and don't forget about waste from decomissioning the actual buildings
It's basically the reactor vessel, which is not that big. The entire plant is not radioactive, after all. In fact, it is LESS radioactive than a comparable coal power plant, which can't even be built nearby, as it would trip all sorts of alarms in the nuclear power plant.
> Japan is just as technologically advanced as Germany, yet one of the nuclear plants, as predicted by Kraftwerk (the band), blew and fucked up the whole northern Pacific.
It was a decades old design that had a design flaw which was documented AND IGNORED. And yet, it survived a major Earthquake AND a Tsunami. If that's not safe I don't know what is. It would have been fine if not for more fuckups, like incompatible power so generator trucks couldn't be connected, even though they were dispatched. It's worth it to point out that Fukushima's reactor shut down as designed. As did other nuclear power plants, which experienced no issues at all.
> Building a new nuclear power plant now is betting against a huge leap in battery technology. If that leap happens it's bye-bye for fossil fuels.
Look, I'm all for renewables. But we are not there yet for baseline power, which a few (modern!) power plants could easily provide, supplemented by solar, wind, geothermal. Powering things like an aluminum power plant with renewables is going to be a tough task.
> so don't think its powers plants to be 100% safe.
Nothing is 100% safe. Solar panel installation kills more people per year than all nuclear accidents ever, combined. And most nuclear power plants running today are ancient designs, because it's difficult to get permits to build more, due to public perception. But you wouldn't use the safety record for a car built in 1960 to claim that cars nowadays are inherently unsafe, would you? Why use the same argument for nuclear power plants? We need to replace the old junk with modern power plants.
The Russian navy does have reactors, too. They are creating environmental catastrophes...
> We do, actually. Breeder reactors.
Breeder reactors are even more dangerous than our typical reactors. There have been only few built and those were extremely costly and problematic (for example those in russia).
> It was a decades old design that had a design flaw which was documented AND IGNORED.
They had many design&engineering flaws. Yet the japanese thought they were perfectly save. The large earthquake exposed several severe design flaws.
> And yet, it survived a major Earthquake AND a Tsunami
After the earth quake basically all japanese reactors were shutting down. After several years of downtime only a few are running. some will never be running again.
Basically it's a total loss of several dozen reactors (and other nuclear installation) and a damage going into zillions. But you claim they 'survived'.
Anyway, debating how a nuclear catastrophe fared is always a nice thing, because we know it was a catastrophe.
The fossil fuel catastrophe is still ongoing, yet people just ignore it, because... well, because who knows why.
There were people evacuated because mine fires, because refinery fires, because power plant fires. But that's not as big news as Fukushima.
We have the harrowingly beautiful Chernobyl series, but we also know that the total toll on human lives were/are still lower than the fossil powered equivalent.
Anyway. Dangerous is relative. Just as environment catastrophe. (The Russian Navy does what it does under thousands of meters of water, hardly a serious health risk.)
And any new reactors, breeders or not, are by default safer than anything else we have currently running, coal or not. Because we have improved standards and technology.
Finally, the whole problem of cost is that it neglects the cost of health harm. Factor that in and it becomes irrelevant what kind of reactor, because all are better than other forms of power generation.
Only few. Most of the politicians and industry had no complaints. Protest movements were largely not existing.
The general corruption in the nuclear&political&industrial complex is known.
> And any new reactors, breeders or not, are by default safer than anything else we have currently running, coal or not. Because we have improved standards and technology.
That's not the case. Many principal problems of breeders are not solved. For example the need for very problematic fuel processing plants.
> Finally, the whole problem of cost is that it neglects the cost of health harm. Factor that in and it becomes irrelevant what kind of reactor, because all are better than other forms of power generation.
I don't think that's the case. See the extreme costs of nuclear power plants in the UK.
As a reaction to ongoing protests the government has started a so-called Climate Cabinet, that's working on plans to reduce GHG emissions sufficiently to limit warming to below 2°. They're supposed to present their results in about a month.
Incidentally, Friday's For Future is calling for a global climate strike on September 20th. Probably there is a demo in your city too. Join if you can.
Honest question: is this still seen, internationally, as a serious agreement?
Things take time, I get that. But we're getting close to human lifespans there.
The world in the year 2000 was such a different place in so many ways. It's difficult to imagine what 2038 looks like.
Nineteen years ago, top end computing hardware was something like a Pentium III. Windows XP had not yet been released.
I see plenty plenty GDP coming from all this work, perhaps the only problem is that it wouldn’t land in the pockets of the current lobbyist crop
Germany best coal reserves have depleted; 20 years is a long time.
In reality, Germany still exports electricity to "nuclear powered" France.
The plan to stop coal plants does not count on higher energy imports, particularly not in the form of electricity.
France imports very cheap electricity from Germany when wind/solar works very well and exports very expensive electricity when wind/solar works badly. It's a pretty much balanced trade between the two in terms of electricity but it's far from balanced in monetary terms, Germany pays the non-stability of their grid at a high price.
or when nuclear doesn't deliver enough electricity. Like in cold winters (high demand) or hot summers (low production).
also unplanned maintenance, overheating rivers, drying rivers, ...
Google is your friend:
Those are a very small number of reactors and not affecting in anyway the grid, it's totally planned, you do get clickbait article every year though. By the way, they are only being stopped by regulation as well, not any technical problem.
Additionally, renewables had more severe issues at the moment from the heatwaves, above 25 degrees, solar panel outputs drops a lot and generally there's not much wind either during this kind of weather to compensate.
https://twitter.com/TristanKamin/status/1153624647243620355, Here is the electricity production in France for this summer, there's definitely one source of electricity working better than the others during heatwave...
I don't know why people keep bringing this up, it's an non-issue and it's never been one.
What do you think regulation is for?
> Additionally, renewables had more severe issues at the moment from the heatwaves, above 25 degrees, solar panel outputs drops a lot and generally there's not much wind either during this kind of weather to compensate.
We were breaking a lot of records with renewable energy here in Germany lately...
Those regulations are there to save fishes, they're not related to nuclear plants, coal plants also have the same issue. That's to save wildlife. If you don't care about fishes, the plant technically works.
Since there's a need for maintenance anyway and less demand, that's not worth killing the fishes with warmer water.
Also: The French state heavily subsidizes nuclear energy.
The subsidies in France led to the absurd situation that electric heating is much more prevalent than anywhere else, even though renewable electricity is supposedly more heavily subsidized.
And renewables were not even a thing at that time anyways.
Currently the situation in France is that the nuclear energy is made artificially more expensive to fund renewables with the goal of increasing the renewable share but even with that market distortion, renewables are still failing to compete.
France still has to import electricity from coal power, so the carbon footprint isn't that great in any case. And you can't claim that slightly raising electricity costs offset the dozens of billions that went into the French nuclear sector in any way.
That's an argument constantly repeated by the anti-nuclear activists, it's of course totally false, there's extensive (100+ pages) reports every few years on all the external and primary costs.
> France still has to import electricity from coal power, so the carbon footprint isn't that great in any case. And you can't claim that slightly raising electricity costs offset the dozens of billions that went into the French nuclear sector in any way.
That's not true in any way but if you are concerned about that, you can check https://www.electricitymap.org for other EU countries (this takes into account import as well). Most of them (except Scandinavia) are doing 6x to 10x worse than France at the moment and have a very long way to catch up.
The engineers who are behind such proposals and plans actually now that sun and wind energy isn't constantly available. That's way there is a mix of energy sources and technologies, including, yes, Russian gas. But also American Liquified Natural Gas. Oil. Electricity storage systems. And maybe even new nuclear reactors in the future, once a few nagging problems have been figured out.
It's just that we have no other choice.
And that's for the current speed at which nuclear plants are build. If we wanted to build an order of magnitude more, we'd first have to train nuclear engineers to staff them. And scale up production facilities for pressure vessels.
Do they fear statistics, which point out that nuclear is one of the safest forms of power per kilowatt, most comparable to wind and commercial (non-rooftop) solar?
But for a few paranoid NIMBY protesters, everyone knows where to put nuclear waste—send it to breeder reactors.
Also, catastrophic nuclear failures are not deadly. Radiation from Fukushima has killed 1 person. And despite being the most absurd scenario possible to contemplate, radiation from Chernobyl killed between 30-100 people.
In 2011, there were 163 wind turbine accidents in England that killed 14 people. Wind kills more people than nuclear, and nuclear makes orders of magnitude more electricity.
It didn't work reliable enough and was too costly. Closed down by the industry relatively silently...
There is a site for nuclear waste. It does not work as expected. It needs to be cleaned for a few zillions...
Nuclear is dead in Germany. Nobody wants it, it's too costly, it lacks critical solutions (like fuel reprocessing and nuclear waste storage), which also nobody wants to host.
1. With 99% probability all remaining humans will die a slow, painful death in 60 years.
2. With 1% probability you will have to move homes to not get cancer in 20 years.
A decisive majority of the voting people will choose option 1.
Edit: An unpopular fact it seems but Germany imports over half its power https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_Germany