Question: Why is Germany closing all its nuclear power plants?
Answer 1/31 kudos @
Greenpeace says that renewable energy is better than nuclear which is better than fossil fuels.
So as far as Greenpeace is concerned, shutting down the nuclear power plants is a good idea if they can be replaced by renewables in a reasonably short time period (several decades).
As related in Der Spiegel, a Greenpeace expert named Andree Böhling has said, "Natural gas is a bridge we can rely on." He was referring to how to make up for the electrical output that will be lost by the closing of nuclear power plants. Natural gas is generally much cleaner than coal but still produces net carbon emissions and other environmental problems caused by drilling.
It had always been Germany's plan to end nuclear power. They had just planned to do it over a slightly longer time scale before the Fukushima disaster. It was really the Chernobyl disaster, not Fukushima, that convinced Germany to abandon nuclear power.
Can Germany actually replace the lost nuclear power with renewables? Right now it doesn't seem feasible, but problems like this have a habit of being solved when the necessity arises. The main idea currently is to use land-based wind power and some solar, with a little geothermal and biomass.
Two key issues for using wind power as a replacement for nuclear are the footprint of all those wind power generators (something like 2% of Germany's land would need be covered) and how to store power when the wind isn't blowing. Pumped storage hydroelectric plants are the leading idea for storing energy, but this also creates environmental problems.
The article claims that Germany is getting 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour at midday from solar (the equivalent of "20 nuclear power stations at full capacity"). The article claims that this is 50% of Germany's electric power needs on a Saturday at noon. Germany only has 9 nuclear power plants still running and plans to shut them down by 2022.
The article claims that:
1. Germany has more solar polar generation capacity than the rest of the world combined.
2. Germany gets 4% of its total electric needs annually from solar; the percentage is increasing rapidly and this figure probably doesn't include recent installations
3. Germany gets 20% of its total electric needs from renewable energy.
4. Germans pay about 25 cents per kw/h (when extra taxes to support renewables are factored in); these costs keep dropping as new technology improves, and one must also factor in the other savings that accrue from the use of clean power --- a cleaner environment, energy independence, and lower healthcare costs due to reduced pollution
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