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The Ambassador takes the industry position, falsifying and obfuscating in his brief. he states that nuclear has "virtually no carbon footprint," which is debatable, and ignores a few other aspects of its footprint.

He gets wind wrong on the FIT, and claims it's already destabilizing the grid, which is patently false. He claims solar is risky because German companies might be purchased by the Chinese, as has happened to one small start up in wind... there's no there there.

His main point is that Germany is writing off economically viable options like 125 reactor years, as if economics were the driving force behind the shutdown.

He's basically shilling for usian energy interests, which of course is his job. But by claiming that the German politicians are not playing fair with the voters, and then not even getting his facts right, he enters the propaganda zone.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Jun 10th, 2011 at 03:37:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure there's a place where schilling for US interests stops and propaganda begins.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jun 10th, 2011 at 03:46:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"he states that nuclear has "virtually no carbon footprint," which is debatable"

An already running power plant? What significant carbon footprint would it have? As a first approximation anyway (especially relative to what will usually replace it), this is typically how nuclear energy is described. Even by, say, Jérôme. Is he too a anti-renewables propagandist?

"and ignores a few other aspects of its footprint"

He makes it clear that his intention is not to provide with a cost-benefit analysis. Rather, Germans have already said they liked the benefits and he intends to state the costs. Note that he then goes on to say that they may well still like the decision, knowing the costs.

"He gets wind wrong on the FIT"
OK, that is bad. But what I find when looking it up (and maybe I too will be wrong, but hopefully you will not accuse me of anti-wind propaganda) is that the subsidy is greater -9.02 cents for onshore and 13 cents for offshore.

"and claims it's already destabilizing the grid"
No he doesn't. He says that the point where it will is probably not far off with an insufficiently interconnected grid. That too may be wrong -I simply don't know- but he does not say what you claim.

"He claims solar is risky because German companies might be purchased by the Chinese"
Oh please! He says that solar is not very appropriate for the German latitudes and climate. Then mentions that DESPITE that the investments had the advantage of making Germany very competitive in the field, an advantage that of course is greater if the industry stays German.
Maybe you'd like that bit removed, but the point is that solar will not replace much of the electricity currently produced by the nuclear plants. Do you wish to dispute that? To call it propaganda?

"His main point is that Germany is writing off economically viable options like 125 reactor years"

Absolutely not. The economic viability is mentioned in passing and is not central to any paragraph in the article. The point is that 125 reactor years of production will need to be replaced. And he discusses the ways.

"He's basically shilling for usian energy interests, which of course is his job"
That is one interpretation, but hardly an undisputable objective statement.

"But by claiming that the German politicians are not playing fair with the voters, and then not even getting his facts right, he enters the propaganda zone. "

I whish that we stopped calling propaganda anything short of a rousing promotion of our own prejudice.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri Jun 10th, 2011 at 05:00:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
1. When the entire fuel cycle is included, including mining, milling, enrichment, transport, decommissioning and long term storage, the carbon footprint is indeed debatable, no?. at least the dozens of authoritative conflicting studies would seem to think so.   Some experts add the cost of heavy water production for those technologies which use that.

Straw dog argument about Jérôme, but if he doesn't believe the issue is debatable, then he might find a fair amount of expert disagreement.

  1. So he wants Germans to fully understand the costs, then proceeds to get them wrong. Why defend that?

  2. Yes, he also got the FIT costs wrong, they're higher, but he still argues it's a subsidy. Without looking at the full cycle cost benefit, the merit order effect, the externalities (which is one of the main reasons a FIT exists), and the actual decrease in long-term cost of energy. He propagandizes the "subsidy" because he takes it in isolation, which does not exist in the real world. for example, national security issues which are avoided by renewables.

  3. He says Germany "is reaching the point of destabilizing the grid," which it is not. further, he ignores the fact that the grid must be upgraded in any case, which is already long underway. he ignores the benefits of renewables on the grid as well, where decentralization and modern fault ride-through and other electrical benefits actually increase the stability of the grid. he's simply looking at the north-south power lines needed in isolation, again, going back to my original post, obfuscation.

  4. Yes, i wish to dispute his points about solar PV, and yours. But northern latitude cloudy solar inefficiency compared with Spain or California ignores a raft of other benefits. Further, FIT costs used to create a manufacturing industry, and they're planned to decrease strongly over time, with the goal of greatly reducing the cost of PV, just as it did for wind.

he simply states solar is not an option to replace 65 terawatt hours, as if that was the goal for PV. So yes, this seems to be another area where his obfuscation is good enough to have clouded you view.

  1. Actually, since he uses the phrase "economically viable" in two sentences in a row would indicate it IS central to his argument.  (Though of course you're correct he's ALSO talking about replacement.)

  2. Well, he is the ambassador, so objective or not, shilling is part of his job description. That he's mirroring Obama's comments to Merkel might be a clue that this is part of planned action to sow discord in the major country in the world which is both accenting renewables and setting out a roadblock for nuclear power which, horror, might gain other countries.

  3. Willful obfuscation and falsification is propaganda, especially when it comes from the highest amurkan officer in Germany, no?


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Jun 10th, 2011 at 06:34:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I had missed the word "ambassador" in his job description, so at least on the issue of it being his job to promote US interests, I must admit that you were entirely right.

"When the entire fuel cycle is included, including mining, milling, enrichment, transport, decommissioning and long term storage, the carbon footprint is indeed debatable, no?"

I did not, and he did not, say that it was zero (nor is any of the alternatives zero when you take the entire cycle). But it is one of the smallest carbon footprint options available. It is most likely to be replaced by coal.
Plus, I fail to see how the decommissioning costs can be taken into account there: if you stop the plant earlier, you'll still have them. Only way to avoid them is to never start the plant, which is not what is being proposed here.

"national security issues which are avoided by renewables."

He also fails to talk about how nice it is to have the Berlin Philharmonic.
He makes it clear from the start that he takes it for granted that the German public is well aware of the advantages of dropping nuclear, but not the costs.

And from everything I see, it is presented as an absolute environmental slam dunk, when there is a strong likelihood that it will mean much greater use of coal -probably imported, but that only makes it worse in the global picture (I reckon Germany is better at doing things properly than some of their neighbours).
And most studies show coal to be much, much worse than nuclear. If you know something that does not make it so, please elaborate.

"He says Germany "is reaching the point of destabilizing the grid," which it is not."

I take your word for that, and in that case it is a bad thing that he made this false claim.

"Yes, i wish to dispute his points about solar PV, and yours."

Since my only point is that it is not likely to replace much of the current nuclear production, I will be delighted to hear from you where they will be installed, who will pay for them, who will make them. I also note that you failed to scream at his not mentioning the terrible environmental costs that they have when you take the whole life cycle into account. Or is it only a wilful omission when it goes against our prejudice?

"Actually, since he uses the phrase "economically viable" in two sentences in a row would indicate it IS central to his argument. "

Absolutely not. If it were he'd give it a dollar value. It's important only in that if it were not economically viable, then we wouldn't have to replace so much electricity -as it would not have been produced, another source would have been preferred.

The argument is replacement right, left and centre. And I agree that it is phrased in a way that does not do full justice to wind economic viability, although it's rather milder than what we usually read. Plus, remember that the price-lowering returns of wind are strongly decreasing when you add a lot of it (because you are no longer replacing the most expensive type of plant, but the second, third, fourth most expensive one). We are talking about 25% of current consumption that have to be added.

Because it needs to come to that. None of the alternatives would be an improvement, by your own criteria. Yes, I'd like to reduce energy consumption, but we know that it means MORE electricity production (to remove internal combustion engines, mostly).

And only wind is alright, by your own criteria. So, your dismissals of any costs associated with shutting down the nuclear plants means that wind (plus wave energy I guess, plus any yet to be discovered technology) will have not only to replace those 65 terawatt hours, plus all the required additional production. You seem to claim that this will not be a problem.
I'd like to see the plans before I believe them. And I would want nothing more than to actually believe them. I'd really love to.

Because otherwise, it's just the type of hypocrisy we usually saw in answer to Kyoto, claiming to have made the planet cleaner because we exported all the dirt to countries that had no environmental regulation. And if it comes to that, it's Merkel that I would call the propagandist.


Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sun Jun 12th, 2011 at 04:51:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a series of errors or bits of misinformation in his article:


Wind: Germany has a robust wind energy programme. German taxpayers and rate payers subsidise wind power to the tune of some €5 billion/ year. Investors in wind are guaranteed a rate of 8.2 euro cents per kilowatt hour for 20 years on shore or 9.1 euro cents offshore.

Beyond the basic error that the FIT numbers are out of date, the article conflates payments under the FIT (ca. 60TWh at 82 EUR/MWh is 5 billion euro) with subsidies. The subsidy component should only be the part of the price which is above market levels, not the absolute amount...
Of course, after that 'error' there is the additional neglect of the merit order effect (evaluated to be worth more than 5bn per year to consumers by academic studies) and the value of avoided externalities.


Germany is reaching the point of destabilising its electricity grid with too much wind and insufficient grid interconnection.

As one says "[citation needed]." This is plain false and unsusbtantiated.


Germany may have as much solar PV capacity installed as it had nuclear before the 11 March shut down. Unfortunately, with an average of 14 days of rainfall per month and sunshine less than five hours per day through the year, solar is not very efficient - solar provides just over 1.0% of electricity.

The capacity factor is what it is. What matters is that (i) in terms of capacity, solar is already on the scale of nuclear (and thus is a significant part of the overall system, not a minor add-on), (ii) the yearly additions are on the same significant scale and thus (iii) it is not because solar was a small part of production that it will remain that way!


Germans pay a feed in tariff of up to 49 euro cents per kilowatt hour for solar energy.

Misdirection - the highest tariff applies only to the very smallest installations (where the relevant comparison is the much higher retail price, not the wholesale price), notto the larger installations, which benefit from lower (and steadily decreasing) tariffs.


 as long as the German taxpayer's investment in solar technology doesn't get sold to a Chinese company - as has happened in wind.

Not sure exactly what Germany's taxpayer investment in wind he has in mind, but (i) such investment was nil since FITs are paid by electricity consumers, and we've seen there that the effect is actually positive... and (ii) how does the health of the German wind sector (and assorted subcontractors) look to you?


Neighbours: This may be the easiest option - just like Italy. Germany has at least six neighbours who may be willing to sell electricity to Germany and others further afield.

... except that Germany is still today (with 7 reactors already off) a net exporter.


Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 10th, 2011 at 08:33:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cyrille:
An already running power plant?

we have not figured out a safe way to decomission and store yet, so how will that factor (externality!?) not be part of the footprint, especially with the huge amounts of time these byproducts need to be watched over, cooled etc.

either you imagine some new technowizard way of creating energy that's going to take the place of carbon based fuels, (pony optional), or we're going to be hauling diminishing supplies of water by mulecart to keep these demons placated for centuries.

our descendants are really going to appreciate that.

i can't believe anyone can follow this line of logic, that nukes represent even a greener alternative to coal. at least a coal plant stays dead when you kill it. there's such a vastly unquantifiable future set of energy unknowns yawning ahead regarding safe disposal, that any proposition that wiggles around that as unquantifiable therefor irrelevant to the discussion is blithely whistling past the graveyard, imo.

a graveyard replete with near-eternal flesh-eating zombies at that...

propaganda is using lies of omission or commission to push an agenda which if truthfully presented would be abhorrent to most reasoning individuals, so i'd say this is a fine example...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jun 10th, 2011 at 11:37:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"either you imagine some new technowizard way of creating energy that's going to take the place of carbon based fuels"

Which is yours by the way? You claim that it is OBVIOUS that nuclear must be stopped. OK. What's your alternative, though? It would be interesting to hear.

You see, Monbiot is right in that, for some reason, nuclear must pass entirely different tests. We must invest in PV because maybe someday it will work enough (although we'd have to revisit quantum mechanics for it to reach our dreams, there seems to be a ceiling to it), but surely not invest in R&D for nuclear plants that could use today's waste, that would be bad.
We must talk about the environmental damage of nuclear but never of the damage of any alternative to it.

I'd love to get rid of nuclear. But I don't like unqualified fantasies. So, rather than say "stop nuclear", elaborate. Then we can discuss if we like the alternatives.

"i can't believe anyone can follow this line of logic, that nukes represent even a greener alternative to coal."

Really? In the short run? When the most pressing problem is climate change?
Not to mention the many, many deaths associated with coal. You don't even say that you disagree. You say you can't believe it. Wow.

Nuclear is not a long term solution. It is not a solution in very many countries at all. Maybe it is not even part of the short term solution anywhere, although I don't think that's quite the case.

Coal should be a strict no no.

By natural inclination, I'd be siding with people who'd like to get rid of nuclear (but also with people who'd like to get rid of a lot of other things, and maybe we can't get rid of all of them). However, many people on Eurotrib are quick to scream obfuscation, lies, propaganda ... about everything someone we don't agree with writes, yet in a heartbeat pass over convenient omissions by people we like.

I don't think this strengthens the argument.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sun Jun 12th, 2011 at 05:24:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"either you imagine some new technowizard way of creating energy that's going to take the place of carbon based fuels"
Which is yours by the way?

You have to read more attentively:

we're going to be hauling diminishing supplies of water by mulecart to keep these demons placated for centuries.

our descendants are really going to appreciate that.

:P

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 12th, 2011 at 05:39:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I did read that. And I thought it was not particularly appropriate.

It is far more likely that we will manage to use nuclear waste in a next generation nuclear plant than to have an unlimited supply of fossil fuels (and of climate) to keep doing what we are doing with them right now.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sun Jun 12th, 2011 at 02:02:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In other words, we need something to take the place of carbon based fuels. That's a given, so where does this "either" come from?

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sun Jun 12th, 2011 at 02:03:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i don't see many here screaming, though i admit to feeling like that munsch painting sometimes.

i wish i had a clear answer to your cogent questions, Cyrille. the best i can come up with is negawatts, i.e. the screaming on the pronuke side that we'll never be able to generate a tenth of the energy we use now, as if it were axiomatic we must, i believe to be delusional.
first of all they don't know that for sure, as we have barely begun to try supplanting it, and secondly so what?

i think we use and waste criminal amounts of energy, and i don't think that we will all be huddling in caves without nukes, but i can't prove it, or do more than cite kunstler or some other semi-authority as agreeing with me. no-one is an authority on the future though, too many variables. i do see many advantages to living using way less energy though, and i feel it to be 99% inevitable, unless some unforeseen breakthrough occurs.

i guess we can wait and see, while remaining in polite disagreement, but thanks for your reply, you frame your opinions well, and i know the vast majority of people agree with you, still, notwithstanding fukushima.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 15th, 2011 at 01:27:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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