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Earth Power Science

The Coming Energy Turnaround In Germany 394

An anonymous reader writes "Germany has decided to close all of its nuclear power plants by 2022 and embark on an energy turnaround that focuses on large increases in sustainable energy production. What will it take in terms of investments, and will it mean cost hikes for German consumers? Will it really mean more jobs in the 'green energy' sector? Quoting: 'Total investment over the next decade for such an energy turnaround is estimated to be roughly €200 billion (or almost $290 billion). ... At the moment, more than 20 new coal-fired power plants are being planned or already under construction; together, they would achieve a total output of 10 gigawatts and could, in terms of power supply, replace nuclear power plants that are still operational. But coal-fired power plants do not fit into the concept of the sustainable energy turnaround that the government has put forward.'"
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The Coming Energy Turnaround In Germany

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  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday September 09, 2011 @07:24PM (#37358270) Homepage Journal

    Yes, modern nuclear plant is better. Base load, security, etc.

    Yes, it is expensive for older plants. However modern design don't have those long term problems previous generation plants have.

    There are reactor design that run off old waste, and the end product has return to background radiation level in 200-500 years. You could, quite literally, build the storage facility for it's wast as part of the plant.

    Naturally, you should include the clean up as part of the price.

    Personally, I would like to see the government start to build, operate and maintain these types of plants. Sell the energy at cost. Include take down as part of the cost.

    Remove bonus incentive, C*O Pay, and board member approval will drop the cost to operate substantially. It will also make it safer, since there isn't an incentive to cut corners.

  • Re:Be patient (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hot soldering iron ( 800102 ) on Friday September 09, 2011 @09:07PM (#37359090)

    Close, but you're thinking like someone untrained in technology. You did get the "Put it under high pressure" part right, though. You put it in a pressure cooker, and after initial startup, the generated methane and other hydrocarbons will power the process. The current iteration of this technology is called "Thermal De-polymerization", and can convert raw bio-waste into number 2 diesel fuel in about 24 hours. There was a pilot plant set up outside Jefferson City, Missouri, to process waste from a turkey processing plant. It was shut down due to "the smell that came from it". Have you ever been around a poultry processing plant? I would have shut the poultry plant down first, if that was a legit reason.

    Another technology, called "producer gas" during WWII, will take just about any bio-waste, and by controlled combustion, create carbon monoxide, a fuel that burns at over a thousand degrees Fahrenheit. The modern version of this is currently being explored by "fringe science enthusiasts" as "Bingo fuel". They use a carbon arc for rapid breakdown of water and bio-matter into hydrocarbon fuel. Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen. That was the "secret" of the urban legend of the Water Engine. Put in water, and the destruction of the carbon electrodes by the arc created gaseous fuel.

    These technologies exist, in economically viable forms, right now. Unfortunately, vested interests (energy and petroleum) could afford to "influence" politicians to shut down this dangerous competition with pocket change from their couch cushions. If Germany gets hold of this, and develops it into "plug and play bio-reactor refineries" to use instead of waste treatment plants, or land-fills, they'll become major energy technology players.

  • by tmosley ( 996283 ) on Friday September 09, 2011 @09:37PM (#37359298)
    Those fish aren't actually inedible. The mercury in 99% of saltwater fish is in the form of a non-toxic insoluble salt (it combines with selenium). This is why fish-eating nations like Japan aren't all dead of Mercury poisoning, and don't even exhibit the symptoms of low level chronic poisoning. Mercury on the land is much, MUCH more toxic and dangerous.
  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @12:36AM (#37360146) Homepage Journal
    Well there are serious doubts that, in Germany anyway, electricity use will continue to grow at all, let alone at historic rates. Increased efficiency combined with a population that at best has near zero growth means that really the only place increased demand can even come from is industry, but even that is unlikely. Although the German manufacturing base has fares better than most of it's developed world counterparts, it is still subject to the same prevailing trends. Ultimately I think that at least a couple of these plants will not be replaced at all as there simply will be less of a demand for electricity.
  • by EvilAlphonso ( 809413 ) <> on Saturday September 10, 2011 @02:45AM (#37360536) Journal

    Maybe, but Germans are still trying to find their nuclear waste that East Germany "treated" before the fall of the wall. They do know it is buried somewhere, nobody has a clue where.

  • Re:"Ahem" (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vtcodger ( 957785 ) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @07:41AM (#37361488)

    "Candle makers across Europe are building up their inventory."

    As indeed they should be. If any large country in the world has the will and technical ability to make renewable energy work, it is Germany. But I simply don't see how they can pull this off. Wind has major limitations. Germany is too close to the pole for solar to provide much power in Winter. They don't have large undeveloped hydro resources. They don't have that much in the way of oil. They might have 20 years worth of natural gas at current consumption levels (and might not), but they will burn through that pretty quickly if they use it to replace existing power sources. Germans are already pretty energy efficient.

    I wish them luck. Really. But I don't think this is going to end well.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas