More about those 50 fewer coal plants...a German Renewables Redux

"The rapid expansion of renewable energy in Germany means there is no need to renege on the government's agreement to phase out nuclear power," reports Reuters today.

This is how things always happen for me. I was getting ready for class, and doing some searches to show the students how to use databases for their research. In doing so, I came upon a report from Reuters, put out just today, about the very subject just discussed in a post yesterday about wind energy in Germany.

At Factiva, one can find the article "Germany says renewables growth faster than planned." (I can't find it at Reuters.com itself. So here it is as a pdf file.)

Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said "Renewable energy had risen almost 13 percent last year to account for 11.8 percent of the country's total electricity supply."

Since Germany is the "Europe's biggest economy, it is also Europe's biggest polluter." And such is the problem.

Notes Reuters:

As concern grows about global warming, several European countries are having second thoughts about previously unpopular nuclear power as -- unlike coal or gas fired power stations -- it is virtually free of
climate-changing emissions.

Gabriel said the annual increase in renewable energy in the power sector was equivalent to a year's
production at a nuclear plant.

As EU president, Germany has made a priority of tackling climate change but the country is reliant on
pollution-heavy coal power plants.

Thus, they continue to pursue a nuclear phase-out in the coming decades. To be sure, building new coal plants is a problem; nobody can deny that. Friend of The World's Fair Andrew Dodds helpfully provided this link to a pdf file about utilities in Europe.

In fact, check out their plan for the Development of the German Power Plant Portfolio from 2000 to 2030 (from the file just linked to):

i-4105bb6424dd12b6a0c1c3199e3a63bd-German Utilities Plan.jpg

But what the Reuters article points to is the possibility of addressing emissions issues without the nuclear option. It also provides an example of attacking the coal-fired problem by trying to render it unnecessary. What it doesn't point to or problematize is my ever-present concern: the assumption that we should be working on replacing energy production capacity and not energy consumption patterns.

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