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By Robert Rapier on Sep 8, 2011 with 34 responses

Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Rise to 20 Percent

The following is a guest post from OilPrice.com.

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In the Aftermath of Fukushima, Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Rise to 20 Percent

The worldwide implications for nuclear power advocates in light of the 11 March disaster at Japan’s Daichi Fukushima nuclear complex, battered first by an earthquake and a subsequent tsunami, are slowly unfolding.

Nations committed to nuclear power are being subjected to a relentless PR barrage by nuclear construction firms, who stand to lose billions if current contracts are suspended or, even worse, canceled.

Despite the bland reassurances of the nuclear power industry that “it can’t happen here,” in Europe, Italy has canceled plans to construct nuclear reactors, while Germany’s Bundestag last month passed a resolution to close all 17 of the nation’s nuclear power plants. Seven NPP plants were immediately shuttered with the remainder to be passed out by 2022.

So, where to go for the juice?

Shifting gears since the beginning of the year, a trend accelerated by Japan’s Fukushima debacle, in a statement released by the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), commenting on renewable energy input to the country’s national grid since January, “Renewable energies have crossed the 20 percent mark in Germany for the first time.” Last year, Germany’s green energy consumption totaled 18.3 percent of total demand.

Following Fukushima, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that her government’s goal was to draw 35 percent of production from renewable energy sources by 2022. While Germany’s total energy consumption remained stable at 2010 levels of 275.5 billion kilowatt-hours, energy from sources like wind, biomass, hydroelectric plants, solar panels and waste incineration rose to 57.3 billion kilowatt-hours in the first six months of 2011.

Wind power, Germany’s most important renewable energy source at present, rose to 20.7 billion kilowatt-hours of total usage, with biomass contributing 5.6 percent, solar 3.5 percent and hydroelectric power a modest 3.3 percent.

Germany’s new energy policies will depend on the installation of new renewable power capacities with an amendment to the Renewable Energies Act stipulating the doubling of the nation’s share of green power to 35 percent minimum no later than 2020 with an especial emphasis on offshore wind farms.

While these figures are still modest, they conceal an immense but simple truth.

One of the world’s most advanced economies has reviewed its commitment to nuclear energy, which accounted for 23 percent of national electricity consumption, and decided to abandon it, a not insignificant commitment, as its first NPP came online in 1969.

Even more extraordinary, the decision was made not on the basis of an in-country disaster, but watching the experience of others. As Japan is one of the world’s leading technological states and yet was subjected to the Fukushima disaster, Berlin obviously concluded that engineering cannot factor out every natural random event. Like Japan, Germany is a densely populated state, and a nuclear incident and its attendant debris was obviously adjudged as not worth the risk.

Looking at the transition not as a debacle but an opportunity, Chancellor Merkel said that the closure of Germany’s NNP installations, previously scheduled to be shuttered as late as 2036, would give Germany a competitive advantage in the development of renewable energy, commenting, “As the first big industrialized nation, we can achieve such a transformation toward efficient and renewable energies, with all the opportunities that brings for exports, developing new technologies and jobs.”

The consequences of Fukushima on the world’s multi-trillion dollar civilian nuclear energy industry have yet to play out. But some broad issue outlines are becoming clear.

While Germany’s prosperity is unmatched in Europe, which allows it to pursue other energy alternatives, other EU nations will undoubtedly be more circumspect in reviewing their nuclear programs.

Given the German decision however, it seems likely that nuclear energy companies will redouble their efforts in developing countries short of energy, including Turkey, Lithuania, Bulgaria, China and India, trotting out the usual panaceas about zero greenhouse gas emissions, reactor redesign, etc. etc. etc.

Energy deficit countries will be faced with tough calls – build a nuclear plant in 2-3 years and resolve some energy issues, or await Germany’s transition to alternatives.

Much is riding on Berlin’s efforts, but what the future will look like is anyone’s guess, and the global nuclear lobby is most unlikely to go quietly into that gentle night.

Source: http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Renewable-Energy/In-the-Aftermath-of-Fukushima-Germanys-Renewable-Energy-Sources-Rise-to-20-Percent.html

By. John C.K. Daly of Oil Price

  1. By moiety on September 8, 2011 at 7:46 am

    German renewable generation may be rising but the reduction of nuclear to zero leaves massive problems for the country. The immediate solution is below.

    Instead, BNetzA secured 1,075 MW of reserve capacity from Austria and
    picked older conventional power plants in Germany with a total capacity of
    1,009 MW to secure energy supply in extreme weather situations during the
    coming two winter seasons. http://www.platts.com/RSSFeedD…..src=Eloqua

     

    The scary parts for me is that the regulator uses worlds like in exceptional circumstances for the use of these stations and reserve capacity. Yet Amprion suggests that the grid will have 84,000 MW at its disposal to generate 81,000 MW; an extremely small margin. If this is true those exceptional ciurcumstances may become normal circumstances.

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/44324596/

     

    I expect two winners in the market; the Russian Nord stream pip-eline and, as in 2007 coal (26 new plants were planned in 2007). One thing is for sure on those margins, Germany will no longer be an electricity exporter.

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  2. By YJ Draiman on September 8, 2011 at 10:07 am

    In the United States renewable energy to supply 10% of the nation’s electricity by 2012, rising to 25% by 2025.
    Renewable energy accounted for 10.4 percent of the domestically produced electricity in the United States in the first ten months of 2009. California is a leading state and 31 percent of California’s electricity comes from renewable sources. Most of this renewable electricity comes from hydropower, but 12 percent comes from “new” renewables which include wind and geothermal energy.
    The Solar America Initiative is a part of the Federal Advanced Energy Initiative to accelerate the development of advanced photovoltaic materials with the goal of making it cost-competitive with other forms of renewable electricity by 2015.

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  3. By rufus on September 8, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Did y’all know that the lattitude of S. Texas puts it right in the Middle of the Sahara Desert?

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  4. By rufus on September 8, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Memphis would be on the Northern edge. 35 degrees N.

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  5. By Kit P on September 8, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    John C.K. Daly is again writing about the electricity industry which is odd an oil guy.

     

    Let me respond first to the attack on the nuclear industry with some facts.

    “in Europe, Italy has canceled plans to construct nuclear reactors, while Germany’s Bundestag last month passed a resolution to close all 17 of the nation’s nuclear power plants.”

    Italy had no new nukes planned. Italy banned nukes after Chernobyl. Attempt to repeal the ban failed but I would have been surprised if it had passed. I think it would be easier to build an offshore wind farm where the Kennedy’s live than a nuke in Italy.

    Germany was going to close nukes after Chernobyl but here we are 20 years later talking about closing nukes.

    “Nations committed to nuclear power are being subjected to a relentless PR barrage by nuclear construction firms, who stand to lose billions if current contracts are suspended or, even worse, canceled.”

    Except for a one page add in trade journals the likes of Bechtel and Shaw do not advertise. Nuclear construction firms get paid to work. If a project is cancelled they lay off the workers. The cost of a cancelled project is paid by the rate payers and investors in utility stock.

    The companies that get paid to build power plants do not really care what kind of power plant it is.

    The only ‘relentless PR barrage’ that I have noticed is the natural gas industry addressing attacks on fracking.

    “Despite the bland reassurances of the nuclear power industry that “it can’t happen here,””

    That is not true either. The nuclear industry has provided ‘bland reassurances’ that nuke plants are designed to survive natural disasters without harming the public. What does John want girls in short skirts ordered two sizes to small cheering ‘nuke em high, nuke em low, nuke em till they glow, glow, glow.’

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  6. By rufus on September 8, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    The latitude of Berlin, however, puts it slightly south of Alberta, Canada.

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  7. By Kit P on September 8, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Moiety summed up the renewable energy portion of this fiction.

    “I expect two winners in the market; the Russian Nord stream pip-eline and, as in 2007 coal”

    Then the left version in the US.

    “California is a leading state”

    Leading in importing electricity from other states.

    “but 12 percent comes from “new” renewables which include wind and geothermal energy.”

    I reviewed a spread sheet I found on the CEC website. Of 500 MWe of new capacity, 430 MWe was built out of state.

    “rising to 25% by 2025”

    People in California are talking about the future but their record of accomplish is one of smoke and mirrors. I do not think that they can do it. Keeping that much renewable energy equipment working is a monumental task and those in California have a short attention span. Producing electricity is hard work.

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  8. By rufus on September 8, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    4th qtr GDP will be a Negative number. The first of many.

    Diesel Demand which has been tracking UP approx 4% YOY for many months is now only up 0.1% over the last four weeks (Year on Year.)

    On a “weekly” basis it would have to have been down significantly YOY.

    Gasoline Demand, this week, went from down 2.1% YOY for the prior four weeks to Down 2.9% YOY in the last four weeks.

    EIA Data

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  9. By rrapier on September 8, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Rufus said:

    Did y’all know that the lattitude of S. Texas puts it right in the Middle of the Sahara Desert?


     

    And since large chunks of the state are on fire, it may soon look like the Middle of the Sahara.

    RR

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  10. By rufus on September 8, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    What happened was: Saudi Arabia, and the oil companies, blew smoke up the politicians, and Wall Streeters’ asses by telling them that they could “Ramp Up” production enough to bring oil/gasoline prices back down to levels that would sustain growth.

    The Retailers, and Manufacturers “bought into” this nonsense, and ordered up a storm. Now, they gots a problem.

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  11. By rrapier on September 8, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Moiety said:

    German renewable generation may be rising but the reduction of nuclear to zero leaves massive problems for the country.


     

    Yep, I have noted this in my book. The immediate fallout for Germany is going to be higher coal consumption.

    RR

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  12. By rrapier on September 8, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Kit P said:

    John C.K. Daly is again writing about the electricity industry which is odd an oil guy.

     


     

    Kind of like an electricity guy pontificating on things that have nothing to do with electricity? We don’t have anyone like that around here, do we?

    RR

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  13. By Benny BND Cole on September 8, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Germany’s renewable push is interesting. As an economist, I am skeptical. But if they build sours of power that are low maintenance, it could be considered one generation’s gift to the next.

    After all, fighting a war may be expensive, but we do it, in part so our children will live more free. Building up a power system that is low maintenance and requires little fuel might be considered a gift to future generations.

    That said, I like nukes.

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  14. By Optimist on September 8, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    What happened was: Saudi Arabia, and the oil companies, blew smoke up the politicians, and Wall Streeters’ asses by telling them that they could “Ramp Up” production enough to bring oil/gasoline prices back down to levels that would sustain growth. The Retailers, and Manufacturers “bought into” this nonsense, and ordered up a storm. Now, they gots a problem.

    You got details on this meeting, perhaps the GPS coordinates of the secret location where this meeting was held?

    Or is that just standard Southern truthiness?

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  15. By rufus on September 8, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    CNBC – Every Day, All Day.

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  16. By Mark Duffett on September 9, 2011 at 12:42 am

    Merkel is on the record as saying an extra 20 GW of new fossil generating capacity will have to be build to ensure Germany’s lights stay on as they crash out of nuclear.

    I’d say the drift of Daly’s article is misdirected. It’s not the nuclear but the renewables industry that is being put on the spot by the German decision. Renewables advocates have been making very big promises for some time now about their capabilities. Now it’s time to deliver. If any nation can pull it off, it’s Germany. Yet the initial indications are that renewables will not prove anything like capable of filling the chasm left by the withdrawal of nuclear, and the heavy lifting will fall to fossil fuels and imported electricity (not least French nuclear).

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  17. By Bernard on September 9, 2011 at 5:58 am

    Germany’s move to switch off nuclear may not yield any solution to environmental; damage and disasters in the long run. The truth of the matter is that renewables are admirable but they cannot provide all the power we need. Nobody can withstand life without electricity and if others follow suit (in switching off nuclear), what we expect is a return to fossil fuels. More emissions and more damage to the environment. The good thing about fossil emissions is that the liability is shared globally unlike a nuclear disaster which can concentrate on a small area.

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  18. By Optimist on September 9, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    CNBC – Every Day, All Day.

    Excuse my french, but that is BS.

    Put up (details) or shut up. None of this everywhere, all the time drivel…

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  19. By russ on September 10, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Optimist said:

    What happened was: Saudi Arabia, and the oil companies, blew smoke up the politicians, and Wall Streeters’ asses by telling them that they could “Ramp Up” production enough to bring oil/gasoline prices back down to levels that would sustain growth. The Retailers, and Manufacturers “bought into” this nonsense, and ordered up a storm. Now, they gots a problem.

    You got details on this meeting, perhaps the GPS coordinates of the secret location where this meeting was held?

    Or is that just standard Southern truthiness?


     

    Rufus said:

    CNBC – Every Day, All Day.


     

    For Rufus these tidbits just drift by in the air – along with dust, pollen and whatever. He grabs them as they drift by.

    Saves having to do a lot of thinking.

     

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  20. By russ-finley on September 10, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Eh, this article is not up to Rapier’s standards. Decisions about nuclear are being made by politicians pandering to a very ignorant public swayed by for-profit sensationalist lay-press journalism, not by teams of engineers. That isn’t something to take comfort in.

    The article’s emphasis on the nuclear lobby is a cheap shot. All industries have their lobbies, including the renewable industries and they all blow smoke in about equal proportions in an attempt to garner tax funds.

    Germany is about the size of Montana. They are hooked into Europe’s power grid. Their ability to limit nuclear is largely the result of their ability to tap their neighbors’ energy sources, France’s nuclear in particular. More power to them I say!

    But seriously, if there were a way to string together continental renewable energy sources to replace fossil fuels and nuclear I’d be all for it. There is no way to do that in the foreseeable future. Shutting down nuclear will mean burning more coal.

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  21. By rate-crimes on September 10, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    “The cost of a cancelled project is paid by the rate payers and investors in utility stock.” – Kit P(u-239)

    . . . or when core meltdowns ‘cancel the project’ and entire nations, regions, and the globe pay for generations.

     

     

     

     

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  22. By rate-crimes on September 10, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    “After all, fighting a war may be expensive, but we do it, in part so our children will live more free.” – Benny BND Cole

    Which war(s) would those be?  Does your “live more free” include freedom from unremitting debt, or does it only include freedom for the children of predominantly low-income families to die overseas after multiple deployments?

     

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  23. By rate-crimes on September 10, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    “Nobody can withstand life without electricity” – Bernard

    You’re coughing up the phlegm of all-or-nothing, and an unkind assessment on the proven durability of humankind.  Besides, only the last few generations of several millennia of humans have been using electricity.

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  24. By rate-crimes on September 10, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    “The good thing about fossil emissions is that the liability is shared globally unlike a nuclear disaster which can concentrate on a small area.” – Bernard

    Please define, “liability” and “small area”.  It is certain that Germany did not feel that the area was small enough after Chernobyl.  I don’t think the Japanese and their neighbors feel the area impacted by Fukushima is “small”.

    One thing fossil fuel and nuclear power share is that their burdens are carried by future generations.

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  25. By russ-finley on September 10, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    A much more realistic and technically pertinent article on this topic was published over at Brave New Climate back in July. In comparison, the above  article seems a bit uninformed and naive.

    The current reality in Germany is that subsidized coal-fired electricity (with the funds generated by the trade in CO2 emissions certificates – yes, turn up the irony dial) will be ‘filling the gap‘ (interesting euphemism) left by the nuclear phaseout. We’re talking here of upwards of 20 GWe of new fossil fuel power plants to be built in Germany over the next decade, with Chancellor Merkel being pretty blunt:

    “…If we want to exit nuclear energy and enter renewable energy, for the transition time we need fossil power plants. At least 10, more likely 20 gigawatts [of fossil capacity] need to be built in the coming 10 years….

    I don’t really understand the ‘transition time’ statement — maybe it’s a poor translation. After all, coal-fired power stations last 50-60 years and cost about $2 billion per GWe to build, so this seems like a rather expensive and major long-term energy proposition to me. Built in 10 years, damaging the climate system for half a century. Just great.

    That article’s conclusion was also better:

    Perhaps, I reflect, it’s actually quite good that Germany is following this path. Why? Because it will surely prove, once and for all (okay, I’m still an optimist at heart), that either:

     

    (i) less nuclear power = more fossil fuels + higher carbon dioxide emissions, or

     

    (ii) renewables + energy efficiency really can cut CO2 emissions, displace fossil fuels, and do so cost effectively, without any need for nuclear.

     

    If (i) transpires, the argument for governments to pursue nuclear energy becomes significantly bolstered. If (ii) miraculously comes to pass, then terrific! — Germany will have led the way. Either way, other nations will be armed with the right sort of real-world evidence to know which is the correct path to follow — hypotheticals be damned.

    My apologies for all of the quoting. Also consider reading Jim Hansen’s article,  Hansen warns not to drink sustainable energy Kool-Aid

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  26. By rufus on September 10, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    The amazing thing is that Germany is getting 3.5% of its electricity from Solar. Berlin at 52 N latitude is just a touch North of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, at 51 Degrees North.

    Wait till Des Moines, Iowa (about the same latitude as Rome, Italy at 41 Degrees N finds out that in addition to getting 20% (aiming at 30%) of their electricity from Wind, they can install Solar Farms for the projected $2.00/Watt (and, soon thereafter, probably less.)

    Then you have Texas, with an amazing Wind Resource, and a Monstrous Sun Resource. And, even a, soon to be developed, Huge “Offshore Wind” Resource.

    Even Oklahoma is catching on, as well as Kansas, and Arizon/Colorado, New Mexico. Memphis is the same latitude as the Mojave Desert.

    Tourists at the New Jersey Casinos are requesting rooms with a view of the Wind Turbines.

    It’s the 21st Century, folks. Don’t get caught in 20th Century thinking.

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  27. By rate-crimes on September 11, 2011 at 3:45 am

    “Hansen warns not to drink sustainable energy Kool-Aid” – Russ Finley

    Especially, don’t drink any Kool-Aid mixed near Fukushima…

    Fukushima locals told not to drink the water

    Tokyo water ‘unfit for babies’ due to high radiation

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  28. By russ-finley on September 11, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Rate Crimes said:

    Especially, don’t drink any Kool-Aid mixed near Fukushima: “Fukushima locals told not to drink the water …Tokyo water ‘unfit for babies’ due to high radiation”

     Your links are both six months old. Here are some more old links for you:

    Japanese Officials: Tap Water Is Safe To Drink : NPR

    U.S. military leaders in Japan say water on bases safe to drink …

     But that isn’t the point. The point is that negatives are measure against positives to find a net gain or loss. All energy schemes have their downsides. Hansen, is a big fan of wind and solar. However, he understands their limitations.

    Video of combustible tap water: Don’t drink this water

     

     

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  29. By rate-crimes on September 11, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    “Hansen warns not to drink sustainable energy Kool-Aid” – Russ Finley

    Especially, don’t drink any Kool-Aid mixed near Fukushima…

    Fukushima locals told not to drink the water

    Tokyo water ‘unfit for babies’ due to high radiation

    “Your links are both six months old.” – Russ Finley

    So? Kool-Aid’s shelf life is 10,000 years.  Or, about the same period back in the fossil record as your and Hansen’s ideas.

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  30. By russ-finley on September 11, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Rate Crimes said:

    So? Kool-Aid’s shelf life is 10,000 years

    Riiiight.

    Or, about the same period back in the fossil record as your and Hansen’s ideas.

    You sound like a snotty (Luddite) teenager. Hansen has been arrested for protesting coal. He owns solar panels.

    Which war(s) would those be? Does your “live more free” include freedom from unremitting debt, or does it only include freedom for the children of predominantly low-income families to die overseas after multiple deployments?

     

    I suspect Benny may be thinking about the American civil war, which accelerated the end of slavery in this country, freeing a large percentage of our citizenry. Or possibly, the war against Japan and Nazi Germany. You are probably thinking about the unnecessary wars like Vietnam (started by a Democrat, ended by a Republican) or our present war (started by a fundamentalist religionist Republican after fundamentalist religionists martyred themselves, not yet ended by a Democrat).

     The debt thing is a function of our largely dysfunctional government process exacerbated by a deeply ignorant public.

     The fact that the poor are always screwed by the rich is not limited to war and is more a function of our nasty human nature, as are your nasty drive-by posts.

    You’re coughing up the phlegm of all-or-nothing, and an unkind assessment on the proven durability of humankind. Besides, only the last few generations of several millennia of humans have been using electricity.

     

    Coughing up the phlegm? Spare us …

     

    Unkind assessment of humankind ….says the troll to his spittle be-flecked computer screen.

     

    There were not yet 2 billion people on this planet when electric power was first put to use. A return to candles and fireplaces is no longer possible.

     

    Please define, “liability” and “small area”. It is certain that Germany did not “feel” [my quotes] that the area was small enough after Chernobyl. I don’t think the Japanese and their neighbors “feel” [my quotes] the area impacted by Fukushima is “small”.

     

    Actually, why don’t you define those for us. Chernobyl had far far less impact on German health than their coal plants do. The health of Japan’s neighbors was not impacted at all by Fukushima. Maybe you should do a little less “feeling” and a little more thinking.

     

     

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  31. By Mercy Vetsel on September 12, 2011 at 12:07 am

    So to summarize, about 40% of Germany’s power is carbon free (and renewable as I score it) and the other 60% comes from fossil fuels. Rather than tackle the 60% that comes from fossil fuels, the Germans will eliminate half of the 40% that DOESN’T burn fossil fuels and then try to replace that with windmills and solar so that in the best case scenario where their ambitious goals are met, the proportion of fossil fuel energy will ONLY GO UP TO 65% in the next 10 years. Again, that’s the best case scenario, the government’s “goal”.

    And that’s progress? The title of the headline should read “German Government Plans Dramatic Increase in Fossil Fuel Usage”.

    -Mercy

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  32. By russ on September 13, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Rate Crimes said:

    Fukushima locals told not to drink the water

    Tokyo water ‘unfit for babies’ due to high radiation

    “Your links are both six months old.” – Russ Finley


     

    Six month old links are not a problem when one knows everything and has set opinions – not necessary to think or bother to read even – just keep repeating parrot style.

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  33. By paul-n on September 13, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    not necessary to think or bother to read even

    That pretty much sums up most of Rate Crimes’ posts.  For someone who is trying to get their message across, his method of delivery pretty much makes sure that no one can be bothered to read his message, much less take it seriously.

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  34. By Germany on November 2, 2011 at 8:16 am

    This is an interesting article, 60 percent of German energy comes from fossil fuels and replacing the other 40% with 20% of that becoming wind powered energy such as windmills and solar power.

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