The Breakthrough Institute has a post about Germany’s plans to subsitute fossil fuels for nuclear power.

As most of you know, Germany responded to the Japanese Fukushima incident by deciding to phase out all of its nuclear reactors and replace them with alternative energies.  In the long run Germany hopes to fill this gap with clean renewable energy.  But in the medium term, to ensure a baseload power source for its population, the country is going to have to rely on natural gas to meets its electric power demand and increase its C02 emissions and backslide on its European Union commitments.

Germany’s decision to shutter its nuclear capacity will result in increased carbon emissions and imported power, as we documented in our analysis earlier this year. In September, Der Spiegel noted that Germany would swapping out domestic nuclear for imported nuclear from France, the Czech Republic, and other neighboring states, in addition to the imported and domestic coal brought online.

The Breakthrough Institute focuses on the state of Bavaria and the implications for its 12.5 million people.  As the above diagram shows, the contribution of non-hydro renewable energy is expected to increase from 10 to 36 % of electrical generating capacity. The largest increase comes from natural gas, which will increase dramatically from 10 to 46 %, far more than any other single fuel.

Bavaria is just the latest to abandon its nuclear investments in favor of fossil fuels, trading unlikely radiation risks for certain C02 emissions and pollution increases from natural gas combustion.

On a related topic, The Local Germany reports that the country has to upgrade all of its renewable energy facilities as a result of the phase out of nuclear power.  Whereas nuclear plants provide a stabilising role for power grids, frequency fluctuations caused by intermittent solar and wind energy have increased as Germany starts phasing out its nuclear plants

Major frequency fluctuations in the power grid can overburden older renewable facilities, causing them to shut down. At risk are facilities whose combined energy output totals more than 20 GW, or the capacity of about 20 mid-sized nuclear plants. Concerned about wide-spread blackouts, the German government is currently holding consultations to address this.

If renewable plants, which now account for over one-fifth of the German power supply in some months, were to simultaneously go offline, disruptions to factory production alone would cost billions of euros.

Ultimately, consumers will have to shoulder the bill for modernisation work on wind power, hydropower and biogas facilities – though there are no estimates yet on how much those upgrades might cost.

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