Tick tock, tick tock… The ticking sound that our friends in Germany might be hearing is the countdown to 2022, the year in which the country has pledged to be completely nuclear free.
Meanwhile, halfway across the globe, Japan is still dealing with the aftermath of the meltdown at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility. The disaster greatly damaged public confidence in the safety of nuclear power, leading many countries to question their own commitment to nuclear power.
As Germany, Japan, and other countries seek to phase out nuclear power, they need to design strategies for filling the “energy gap” created by nuclear power’s absence. Renewable energy sources provide the clearest, cleanest path for filling this gap, and many different forms of renewables currently exist as viable options.
Germany-based TimberTower develops massive, easily assembled wooden towers that can be used as the base for wind turbines, much the way wood was used as the foundation for windmills for many centuries. More flexible, renewable and easier to manufacture and produce than metal turbines, the wooden towers make sense for a forest-rich region.
Clean technology company SunPods Inc.—headquartered in San Jose, Calif.—designs and manufactures modular solar array units that help make solar power more accessible and affordable. Unlike conventional customized ground-mounted solar arrays that require extensive onsite assembly and construction, SunPods (which stands for “Sun Power on Demand”) are configured and built in a factory before being delivered to virtually any site — a process that reduces installation time by up to 85 percent, allowing sunny regions to readily harvest the solar power available to them.
Tidal power presents another option for renewable energy for countries with available coastline. IT Power—based in Bristol, UK—is developing an innovative tidal energy device that uses oscillating horizontal hydrofoils instead of traditional rotating blades to generate renewable energy. This pioneering approach offers many advantages over existing tidal stream technology by maximizing the area that can be swept—and hence the power captured—in a given depth of water.
Wind, solar, tidal power, and other renewables all have a role to play in helping countries seeking to move away from nuclear achieve their energy goals. How these countries fill “the energy gap” will be a bellwether for others working to diversify their energy mix.