Once well-known German ingenuity will rapidly morph into German lunacy as Chancellor Angela Merkel takes a machine gun to the feet of German industry by ordering seven of the nation’s nuclear power plants shut down immediately, and the other ten within a decade.
She hopes to transition away from the 23 percent of energy provided by nuclear power by expanding coal and natural gas while targeting 2050 as the year Germans will get 80 percent of their energy from wind and solar.
Of course the latter is a physical impossibility due to the laws of the universe, which make wind and solar the least dense of all energy sources. Hundreds of square miles of land are required to produce the power of a conventional plant (1000 megawatts) instead of hundreds of acres for either fossil fuels or nuclear energy.
I am sure all of Germany’s European neighbors are quietly cheering this news for they know the resulting increase in energy costs will easily dethrone Germany from the top of Europe’s industrial pyramid.
Merkel made a preposterous statement in defense of her radical edict by stating that she acted “after what was, for me anyway, an unimaginable disaster in Fukushima.” Of course, she was referring to the four stricken nuclear reactors. Bur Merkel has not evidently noticed that there has not been a single fatality from nuclear radiation nor any radiation sickness — and in fact all indications are now that it is unlikely that there will be any.
The chancellor wants to expand renewable energy in Germany now considered to be 16.9 percent of the nation’s total output. But a close look at that figure will show that hydropower, not wind or solar, make up the lion’s share of that number. She should look to Denmark for advice on wind. With 51,000 windmills, that nation creates more wind energy than any other. But the Danes are too smart to buy much of this expensive energy, so they sell it at a 75 percent discount to their Swedish neighbors.
In the end, Germany will never turn off all their nuclear power plants. But the country will encounter many painful lessons in its efforts to do so, and it is likely the rest of the world will learn from Germany’s irrational decision.