Germany’s renewable energy revolution is a big deal. It gives people in other countries more hope that they can implement the same (and several countries and cities have done so to some degree or another). It busts myths about renewable energy. It has brought down the cost of solar PV around the world. It is shifting the balance of power (social power and electricity) within Germany. And it is keeping more of Germany’s wealth within its borders.
However, it is also threatening established, rich industries — such as the utility industry, the coal industry, and the nuclear industry.
Of course, the utility industry uses propaganda about costs and reliability in order to try to save its skin; the coal industry uses propaganda about costs, reliability, and the “lack of need” for low-carbon power sources; and the nuclear industry uses propaganda about reliability and CO2 pollution from coal-fired power plants.
Dr. Karl-Friedrich Lenz has coined an interesting label for the few remaining fossil fuel and nuclear propagandists — Fossil Nukes. Many of these people are genuine believers in the agendas they push. Unfortunately, they continually make very odd claims that don’t fit the facts.
Last week, Dr. Lenz decided to debunk one of the most widely cited claims from the Fossil Nuke bathing pool, that Germany’s starting up a record amount of coal power plants to deal with the country’s nuclear phaseout. He also references the always insightful Craig Morris, a Bloomberg article the Fossil Nuke he was debunking had referenced, and Friends of the Earth Germany in the process. Here’s part of that:
As explained for example here by Craig Morris, it takes substantially more than two years to build a new coal power plant. Even if, as Barry Brook seems to think, the German government had decided to build lots of new coal as compensation for shutting down nuclear right after the Fukushima accident two years ago, none of those plants could be “started up” this year.
The article cited by Brook nowhere says anything to base the “due to nuclear closure” claim on. But it does contain this:
“The growth in renewables and the decline in power consumption have already fully bridged the gap opened by the shutdowns of the eight nuclear reactors in 2011,” Norbert Allnoch, head of the IWR, said in today’s statement.
You wouldn’t know that from reading Brook, of course.
With regards to Friends of the Earth, Dr. Lenz notes that the organization proudly boasts about the high number of coal power plants that it has gotten shut down, as well as the targeted remaining coal power plants.
They claim to have stopped 20 coal projects, with only much less still left standing, in their latest overview from last November. Here is a map from their website showing all the cancelled projects:
The issue with the few new coal power plants that are actually going up, as I understand it, is simply this: there are a lot of old coal power plants in Germany that need to be shut down, and some of them are being replaced by new coal power plants (but most are not).
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