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German nuclear power plants, the closing of

April 17, 2012

Let me recap for those of you who weren’t there. Nuclear power was only ever supposed to be a parenthesis in Germany. Back in the sixties, nobody could imagine that we wouldn’t find a better power source in the upcoming fifty years. But we didn’t. And even if some of it could be replaced by wind power, the switching costs money. So two years ago, the conservatives were tying themselves into knots, trying to find a legal way to extend the use of nuclear energy. They managed, and their big industry buddies were quite pleased.

Then came Fukushima. Everybody panicked. If it could happen in Japan, it could happen here! Never mind that Japan is a series of islands, whereas Germany lies at the center of a continent with only a tiny strip of coast in the north. Never mind that Japan lies right on the collision zone of two tectonic plates, whereas Germany practically never has noticeable earthquakes. Suddenly the conservatives were tying themselves into knots, trying to get out of nuclear power as soon as possible. They even accused the greens of not wanting to get out fast enough. It was a rather amusing sight. The end result is that Germany closed down its nuclear power plants pretty much according to the original time table, only now we have to pay lots of money to the big power industry for first promising that they could run their power plants another ten years, and then going back on it.

And today, the University of Duisburg-Essen is holding a seminar on the topic “Energy and Chemistry for the Future”. Their press release (in German) starts with the sentence “Bravely, and surprisingly to many, the switch to renewable energy sources was proclaimed a year ago in Germany” (my translation).

Yeah. Right. “Bravely”.

  1. Dr. rer. nat. Evil permalink

    The full story is even a bit sadder. Back in 2002 the German government, then social democrats and the green party, decreed to gradually close down all our nuclear power plants until about 2020. In 2010 the, by then the Christian democratic and liberal, government undid these regulations and allowed our nuclear power plants to keep going much longer, some of them for more than an extra decade. Good reasons had not been enough to get out of nuclear power. Then Fukushima happened, and suddenly we -still the same government, mind you- could get out of nuclear power- because of fear.

  2. And what the good Doctor refers to above as “Christian democrat” is the same party that I refer to as “conservative”: CDU/CSU. Just to avoid confusion.

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