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Wed Nov 28, 2012, 03:23 PM

Can Germany's Energy Success Happen in America?



Journalist Osha Gray Davidson explained the rapid growth of renewable energy in Germany, the roots of the German sustainability movement, why there is more market stability in renewable energy and what the United States can do to follow the German lead.

This clip from the Majority Report, live M-F at 12 noon EST and via daily podcast at http://Majority.FM

14 replies, 1392 views

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Arrow 14 replies Author Time Post
Reply Can Germany's Energy Success Happen in America? (Original post)
limpyhobbler Nov 2012 OP
DeSwiss Nov 2012 #1
limpyhobbler Nov 2012 #8
DeSwiss Nov 2012 #11
DFW Nov 2012 #2
djean111 Nov 2012 #3
Cleita Nov 2012 #4
DFW Nov 2012 #5
limpyhobbler Nov 2012 #9
JDPriestly Nov 2012 #6
limpyhobbler Nov 2012 #10
Clouseau2 Nov 2012 #7
limpyhobbler Nov 2012 #13
grahamhgreen Nov 2012 #12
NoMoreWarNow Nov 2012 #14

Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 03:56 PM

1. K&R

GERMANY: Power Exports (Renewable) Peak, Despite Nuclear Phase-out

Deutsche Welle
Date - 11.11.2012
Author - GŁnther Birkenstock / gb
Editor - Martin Kuebler



Germany began turning off its nuclear power plants 18 months ago, following the Fukushima disaster in Japan. Since then, many in the business and industrial communities and the general public have feared that the country would soon be facing energy shortages and even blackouts due to a lack of electricity.

Instead, Germany has produced so much electricity this year that it has actually exported its surplus. In 2011, Germany was a net importer of electricity, but this year, utility companies sent some 14.7 billion kilowatt hours of power abroad, according to preliminary figures made public by the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW).

Cheap power from Germany
The rapid increase in power generation in Germany from wind, solar and hydro, however, has been accompanied by an equally rapid decrease in the price of electricity - and not just for German consumers, but also for large customers outside Germany.

This has resulted in a rise in demand for cheap power from Germany; in particular, from the Netherlands, where - due to the cheap imports - several domestic gas-driven power plants have been taken off the grid. Switzerland and Austria are also among Germany's best customers.

Large corporate and industrial users in Germany, however, view the export figures as evidence that the country's energy switchover has not been a success. Their industry association, the VIK, noted that wind and solar utilities frequently generated electricity when there was no immediate demand and that eco-friendly power was pushing gas-driven plants out of the market, although these were still needed when the wind wasn't blowing or the sun wasn't shining. VIK head Annette Loske has stressed that it's important to ensure that Germany expand its power grid and storage capacities.

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Response to DeSwiss (Reply #1)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 10:10 PM

8. very interesting thanks for the link.

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Response to limpyhobbler (Reply #8)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 11:39 PM

11. De nada.

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Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 04:02 PM

2. It CAN. But it won't. Not any time soon, anyway.

In America there are wide-open spaces with years of profitable fracking to be done. There are coastal areas to be drilled (damn the wildlife and the water, full speed ahead). In Alaska, there is tundra to be drilled through.

In Germany, there is practically none of that, and it is so thickly settled that any danger to the ground water or of creating artificial earthquakes would result in outright toppling of the government. Just look at what the government did when they saw what happened to the nuclear power plant in Fukushima. The conservative government said, hey, we're as thickly settled as Japan, we gotta go another direction!

At a meet-up in 2008, Al Gore told me back then that if the USA were to build a ten mile square solar power grid in the desert in the southwest, we could satisfy close to 100% of the electrical needs of the United States. That's a hundred square miles of electrical cells--neither cheap to build nor easy to maintain. BUT--clean as can be, and it will SOME day be a reality because those generations who come after us WILL run out of fossil fuels at some point. Gore said this FOUR years ago. Who listened? Of all people, the Germans, who do not exactly live in a sun-kissed part of the world. I know--I'm there, too.

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Response to DFW (Reply #2)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 06:50 PM

3. Exactly right.

Nothing in this country is done for the good and well-being of ALL Americans.

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Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 07:02 PM

4. No. Because Germans are smarter people than we are

and they recognize what science and social programs are good for them as a nation. We have a nation of too many morons who are making the rules and those rules aren't good for us.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #4)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 07:38 PM

5. It's more complicated than that

I've been in Germany for many years, married to a German social worker. They have plenty of highly inefficient and corrupt systems in place that are in desperate need of reform, just like we do. The difference is that they live in a VERY crowded piece of real estate where environmental issues are not only economic issues but ones of survival. We have two countries on our borders. Germany has nine.

When Three Mile Island nearly blew, it increased the viewership of "The China Syndrome," and put Pennsylvania on the map for people out west, but that was about it. When Chernobyl blew a few hundred miles east of us and sent a radioactive cloud over Western Europe, mushrooms from our woods started clicking when a Geiger Counter was placed next to them. THIS is why a Green Party has seats in the German government and gets cabinet posts. It's not a theoretical issue for most Germans. It is survival.

And yet, German law lets sitting members of Parliament sit on the boards of companies they are supposed to regulate. Imagine the reaction if current members of the House of Representatives were allowed to sit on the board of Pacific Gas and Electric or Goldman Sachs!! My German friends marvel at our "clean" politics. If they only knew!!

And that asshole Republican House member who was anti-abortion rights, and then encouraged his mistress to get an abortion? EXACTLY the same scenario happened here down in heavily Catholic Bavaria with a local conservative politician--OVER 20 YEARS AGO!!

Morons make rules everywhere. It's what they do best (or worst, depending on how you look at it).

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Response to Cleita (Reply #4)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 10:15 PM

9. LOL, that could could be part of it.

I bet the German people had more disposable income since they weren't all worried about medical bankruptcy and stuff like that . So they took their extra money and bought solar panels. Or something like that.

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Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 08:14 PM

6. My experience. (Anecdotal.) At least several years before Chernobyl,

maybe starting in 1982 or 1983, there was an environmental disaster in Poland or then Czechoslovakia. The reports were that the trees on the mountains, especially at the site of coal mines had died. The trees would begin to produce a lot of pine cones, for example. That was considered a sign of distress.

Austrians live in a mountainous country. They enjoy their environment. It is not only where they produce their food, but the life in the mountains and of the flora and fauna that live in the mountains are essential to their culture. The mountains are used for recreation, for inspiration, for worship (shrines on certain routes) and are central to the lives of many Austrians.

When Austrians saw what was happening to the environment in Eastern Europe, they were shocked. My children were attending elementary school there at the time. In their classes, they studied the importance of taking care of the environment and were warned in language appropriate to their ages about the dangers of fossil fuels. They were told what changes to their national, natural environment were signs of trouble.

So, in this way, every school child was educated to think about the environment, to be wary of technologies that could harm it.

In addition to the schools, newspapers published articles early on that educated Austrians to the dangers to the environment.

I don't know whether Austria has developed the environmental awareness and taken the constructive steps that Germany has, but in Austria, too, the anti-nuclear movement was very strong when we were there.

So, the awareness in Germany is most likely also not something new, but has been developing since the 1970s. Had Jimmy Carter been re-elected, we too might be far along the way to a safe environment.

Reagan, once again messed our nation up.

Here is some information about Austria's rejection of nuclear energy.

The Zwentendorf Nuclear Power Plant was the first nuclear plant built in Austria, of 6 nuclear plants originally envisaged. The plant at Zwentendorf, Austria was finished, but never operated. Start-up of the Zwentendorf plant, as well as construction of the other 5 plants, was prevented by a referendum on 5 November 1978. A narrow majority of 50.47% voted against the start-up.

Construction of the plant began in April 1972, as a boiling-water reactor rated at 692 megawatts electric power output. It was built by a joint venture of several Austrian electric power utilities, and was envisioned as the first of several nuclear power plants to be built. The initial cost of the plant was around 14 billions Austrian schillings, about 1 billion Euros today. The ventilation stack chimney of the plant is 110 metres tall. The plant has been partly dismantled. Since 1978 Austria has a law prohibiting fission reactors for electrical power generation.

The plant is now owned by Austrian energy company EVN Group and used as Solar Power Plant and for education purposes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zwentendorf_Nuclear_Power_Plant

Note that Austrians voted against nuclear power in 1978.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #6)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 10:18 PM

10. hmmm, very interesting, thanks for that insight.

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Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 10:10 PM

7. It's much easier in the USA

Our solar energy potential and intensity is many, many times Germany's potential, even after accounting for total electricity usage.

Germany does not have states like Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, California, and Texas with ample sunshine.

Germany does not have our wind power resources which are vast. We use 8 times as much electricity as Germany but have 20 times the potential onshore wind capacity, and 12 times the potential offshore wind capacity. Only Canada and Russia have greater potential capacity.

What Germany does have is political will to solve a national problem; this is something we don't have.

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Response to Clouseau2 (Reply #7)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 06:26 PM

13. I think you're right, the main obstacle seems to be political.

We certainly do have the natural resources.

I'm not sure if it's just that voters aren't making it a priority. Or maybe the problem is that our political process doesn't really offer us any really healthy choices when we go vote.

Maybe some combination of those factors.

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Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 03:13 AM

12. Simply, wind is cheaper!

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Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 07:33 PM

14. Really excellent segment. Thanks!

 

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