In the wake of the explosion of the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, Germany shut down 7 nuclear power plants. Coal-fired power plants will fill the gaps left by phasing out nuclear power. Germany is moving away from nuclear power even though there is very little similarity between the threats confronted by the German and Japanese reactors.
The Fukushima reactors were not destroyed by the earthquake they were destroyed by a tsunami that crippled the plant’s cooling system. That is why it does not make sense for Germany, a largely landlocked nation, to fear a Fukishima-style meltdown.
This decision is particularly troubling because nuclear power is carbon-free while coal-fired plants produce global warming causing GHGs. Germany is also compounding the problem by encouraging other countries to follow their lead.
“There will be more coal power … with consequences for CO2 emissions,” said Guenther Oettinger, a former premier of Baden-Wuerttemberg state.
Even if Germany succeeds in removing all nuclear power from its territory, there are nuclear power plants throughout Europe that pose an immediate threat in the event of a meltdown.
Even if we ignore the short-term health impacts of coal-fired energy generation, the costs of failing to reduce emissions dwarf the costs of renewables. Germany could slowly transition away from nuclear power towards renewable energy, instead, Germany’s politicians have decided to pander to voters rather than lead the nation.
© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
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