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If Jerome thinks it can all be done with wind, he'd better give some figures to show how.  

Here's a back-of-envelope calculation

germany's current electricity consumption is 1.6  billion kWh/day  To cut CO2 emissions, you need to shift most transport to electrified rail (as Jerome advocates) and to plug-in electric road vehicles.  At a minimum, this will double electricity consumption to 3 billion kWh/day.  

Onshore wind is the only renewable source likely to make much contribution to this.  Wind farms have an average output of about 50,000 kWh/day per sq km.  So you'd need 60000 sq km of wind farms - one seventh of germany's land area - for average wind output to equal average consumption.   For peak capacity, you'd need far more than this, even with pumped storage and demand management.  Does anyone really think that allocating this much land to wind farms is feasible?

by paulm on Mon Jul 9th, 2007 at 11:38:30 AM EST
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  1. you have to take into account offshore wind, because there's a lot of space on the continental shelf

  2. you have to note that each sq. km "used" by wind is not quite exclusively used by wind, and can continue to be used for other normal activities at the same time. Will people accept wind farms all over the place is untested, but it's not quite the same argument.

In any case, you won't find me saying that wind can solve all. I'm on record as being in the pro-nuclear camp, and expecting nuclear to be mostly necessary and useful. However, my point above was that a real policy of energy demand reduction, and relentless focus on renewable energies, has not yet been tried. So far, it's been a nice side business while the "real" business is still done by building more coal or gas or nuclear plants. Let's see how much we can get from such a policy, and then the gap will definitely need to be bridged by nuclear. As far as I' concerned, I'll be happy to do so; I just think that we should try to shrink the gap as much as possible before actually bridging it wxith nuclear.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jul 9th, 2007 at 03:26:37 PM EST
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