Some people are cheering as they believe this is great news for the environment. I, however, believe this is utterly wrong for the reasons I will outline in today’s article.
Today’s major environmental problem is climate change (or global weirding if you prefer).
You might believe that given the importance of the Greens in Deutschland, electricity emits little carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases per kWh. This clearly isn’t the case as I have previously wrote about it in a previous article for my own blog.
According to the book Sustainable Energy – without hot air, a French kWh is responsible for around 80 grams of CO2 equivalent ; A US one, 613 grams and a German one, 601 grams.
As you can see, German electricity is around eight times dirtier than the French one. The reasons for such a fact is simple : one country chose nuclear over coal. (to be honest and fair, France didn’t have coal anymore, as contrary to Germany…)
I am not saying that Germany should push for more nuclear. This isn’t my argument…
The Germans are, to my humble point of view, taking the problem by the wrong end: They shouldn’t be thinking about phasing out nuclear as soon as possible, but to phase out coal, which still accounts for 40 percent of local electricity production.
Renewables are witnessing an exponential growth there, and these are great news. But replacing nuclear by solar and wind won’t cut emissions. On the other hand, replacing coal by those same energy sources would literally benefit everybody.
It is widely admitted that coal is by very far the dirtiest energy source. Indeed, The Economist dubbed it as early as 2002 ” the Environmental Enemy Number One “.
Nuclear might be a problem as safety rules and regulations aren’t as tight and as enforced as they should be. Its waste might still be a problem for a few decades (endeavors towards recycling it are progressing), but coal is a much bigger problem.
Did you know that it takes a ton of coal to produce as much electricity as a gram of Uranium ?
Germany is a model for all governments for their support to renewable energy sources. But what always puzzled me is their hate of nuclear.
Sure, it isn’t exactly the perfect solution as the recent catastrophe of Fukushima in Japan have shown. But as I stated on my blog: “ Nuclear isn’t the solution, but there is no solution without nuclear.”
As you might have understood, and to infer this post, I don’t see any antagonism between renewables and nuclear. As a matter of fact, I see an important complementarity between the two.
I look forward to reading your opinion.