NYT: “Tragedy of Germany’s Energy Experiment”

An opinion piece in the New York Times by Jochen Bittner highlights some of the problems that are faced when policymakers seek to move away from carbon sources of energy. Bittner discusses the case of Germany where there is a strong push by the government to move to renewable sources of fuels, while at the same time rejecting nuclear power.

Link is here (registration required) https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/08/opinion/nuclear-power-germany.html

He writes that Germany is struggling to meet the commitment of reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent by the end of this year, and that some Germans in rural areas are tiring of the increasing number of wind parks that are being built.

From the article:

“The tragedy about Germany’s energy experiment is that the country’s almost religious antinuclear attitude doesn’t leave room for advances in technology. Scientists in America, Russia and China believe that it is possible to run nuclear power plants on radioactive waste — which might solve the problem of how to store used fuel elements, one of the core arguments against nuclear. Certainly, these so-called fast breeder reactors have their dangers too. But as we transition to a completely renewable energy supply, wouldn’t they be a better alternative to coal and gas plants?”

The problem of what to do with nuclear waste is the main objection to nuclear power, but we have been also hearing of promising work of how some efforts of using transmutation (e.g. SAFIRE, Cardone, et. al.) to remediate nuclear waste could be promising. It would be interesting to see how things might change if the nuclear waste problem turned out to be solvable.

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