Germany's energy transition at critical stage

Melissa Eddy and Stanley Reed, reporting for the New York Times:

“We are now coming to a critical stage, and all the politicians are aware of this,” said Udo Niehage, Siemens’s point person for the transition. “The costs are becoming high, maybe too high, and you have to look at the consequences for the competitiveness of our industry in Germany.”

Rivaling the costs are the logistical challenges of eventually shifting 80 percent of energy consumption to renewable sources, something that has never been tried on such a grand scale.

One of the first obstacles encountered involves the vagaries of electrical power generation that is dependent on sources as inconsistent and unpredictable as the wind and the sun.

Mentioned in this article—though perhaps not emphasized as much as it should be—is Germany’s knee-jerk reaction following Fukushima to shut down their nuclear power plants by 2022. If there’s one source of predictable, carbon-free energy that can be built anywhere, it’s nuclear, but they’ve taken that off the table and so rely on dirty coal plants to make up the difference. As a result, their emissions are higher now, not lower.

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