Siemens Stunner: Global Energy Giant Quits Nuclear Industry — “The Chapter is Closed for Us”

CEO Says the Energy Future is a Renewable One

atomkraft_nein_danke_2-750599One of the world’s leading industrial energy giants, Siemens, is leaving the nuclear industry.  Speaking to Germany’s Der Spiegel newspaper Sunday, Siemens CEO Peter Loscher explained that the company did not see a future in building new nuclear plants:

The move is a response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in March, chief executive Peter Loescher said.

He told Spiegel magazine it was the firm’s answer to “the clear positioning of German society and politics for a pullout from nuclear energy”.

“The chapter for us is closed,” he said, announcing that the firm will no longer build nuclear power stations.

After the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, governments all around the world are reconsidering their nuclear strategies.

Japan has crafted new feed-in tariffs to encourage rapid adoption of renewable energy in order to replace nuclear capacity; Germany is set to phase out all 17 of its nuclear reactors (all built by Siemens) by 2022; and France — the country with the highest penetration of nuclear plants — is considering a nuclear phase-out option in its long-term energy planning.

The Siemens reversal is one of the most stunning announcements post-Fukushima. It was predictable that some countries would put a moratorium on nuclear development after the incident. But the pull-out of one of the world’s leading nuclear developers shows just how seriously companies are taking these decisions.

Meanwhile, Siemens will continue to focus on renewable energy like wind, concentrating solar power and geothermal. Siemens’s Loscher told Der Spiegel that the switch to renewables is “the project of the century” and explained that Germany’s transition to 35% renewables by 2020 was very realistic.

Siemens is one of a handful of global nuclear heavyweights pushing deeply into renewables. Another major developer, Alstom, has made strategic investments in concentrating solar power and wave energy. And in February of last year, Areva acquired Ausra, a major concentrating solar power company.

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83 Responses to Siemens Stunner: Global Energy Giant Quits Nuclear Industry — “The Chapter is Closed for Us”

  1. MarkfromLexington says:

    Toshiba made a similar announcement last May. Toshiba announced it expects the switch to renewables will improve its operating profit two times over, rising from 240.3 billion yen in March this year to 500 billion yen by March 2014.

    Siemens decision is not only in response to Fukushima, but reflects the very real financial risks associated with building nuclear power plants.

    An arbitration tribunal in May ordered the German company to pay €648 million to France’s Areva after it failed to meet contractual obligations in a nuclear joint venture with Areva.

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    This is good news, since nuclear is impossibly expensive and quite scary.

    I’ve noticed that the current move away from nuclear is already being used as a denier blog talking point in this way: Greens are being blamed for stalling nuclear development thirty years ago, and statements are appearing like “Nobody died from Fukushima, and Chernobyl is now a wildlife park”.

    It’s becoming a little too obvious that we need to move rapidly to get off fossil fuels, so the deniers are again switching their targets. The fact that the decision to abandon nuclear is coming from the private sector should quiet them- but won’t, of course.

    Joe will debunk this latest round of nonsense. We can only hope that the American people are able to get the message.

  3. Matter says:

    Great. We’re going to be using renewables to replace nuclear, instead of coal.

    The Japanese earthquake killed thousands. Fukushima is yet to claim a confirmed kill (although it might indirectly kill dozens, or perhaps hundreds).

    The nuclear phase out will guarantee more coal burning, killing thousands more (and releasing billions of tons of CO2).

    What a catastrophe.

  4. José M. Sousa says:

    What do you think about James Hansen´s position about nuclear energy, especially the need to develop fourth generation nuclear reactors.

  5. Malcreado says:

    Research 4th gen, sure. Deployment is another story, that will depend on a number of factors. Cost being just one.

  6. Malcreado says:

    Coal isnt the only option and in many areas it is not even the most cost effective when you are talking about new builds.

    When a company that has millions and probably billions invested in a sector decides to leave that should say something about the future of the industry.

  7. catman306 says:

    The ‘free market’ is making a decision to leave nuclear behind. Should have been done way back when nuclear power couldn’t get liability insurance. Nuclear power was always corporate welfare, a gift from the politicians, the government, and the taxpayers. The reality based insurance companies were smart enough to stay away.

    We need a presidential candidate with insurance industry experience. He or she will know the difference between reality and

  8. Mike Roddy says:

    matter, you are exhibit A.

    Nuclear was stalling renewable development, because it had the support of banks and major corporations, and was capturing scarce deployment capital. Now that it is no longer an option, renewables will be deployed more aggressively. Besides the danger aspect, nuclear relies on finite feedstock and very limited technical resources.

    The notion that loss of life from Fukishima is minor (confirmed kill?) is an absurd denier meme. Many thousands will die from cancer, and a chunk of a tiny island will be uninhabitable for decades.

    Please, take your arguments to Morano or Watts. CP readers are a little more savvy.

  9. David says:

    Not even renewables. More like natural gas.

  10. John Tucker says:

    When you have huge media savvy special interests distorting the record im not surprised. Its full speed ahead on a Natural Gas Conversion. [German solar having a return of about 10 percent of its nameplate capacity]- meanwhile:

    Utility Demand for CO2 to Jump 82% to Record in Second Half, Tschach Says ( )

    Its really not green or sustainable what is a industrializing and developing world. In reality, its a green-washed death sentence for species diversity.

  11. John Tucker says:

    Guess this cloud got lost in the silver lining – color me unsurprised:

    Siemens Wins Offer of Coal-to-Gas Plants

    The company said in July, Siemens secured from CPI Xinjiang Energy Co Ltd a contract to deliver eight plants to convert coal to synthetic gasfor power generation in Xinjiang in western China. ( )

    That looks like checkmate. Of course they are getting out of the nuclear business.

  12. Theodore says:

    Nuclear energy isn’t dead yet, only wounded. Like a monster with an array of holes torn in its flesh and missing an arm, it is nearly oblivious to the damage and will relentlessly continue its attack on the foolish humans who created it.

  13. Pythagoras says:

    One needs to the free-market ideologues’ love of nuclear power in its proper context. The struggle that has been waged over the past 40 years is one of whether or not humankind has the ability to forestall Malthusian limits.

    Nuclear power was to the free-market ideologues’ the epitome of humankind’s ingenuity. Mastery of atomic energy was a symbol of humankind’s complete understanding and domination of the natural world. If the atom could be harnessed and provide the allure of limitless energy, certainly other limits to mankind’s advancement could be solved. Thus to the ideologues, nuclear power must be defended with religious zeal or otherwise the belief system of free-market infinite growth would be questioned.

    Under this framing, one can discern why the free-market ideologues vehemently oppose the theory of global warming. For it, just as the failure of nuclear power, is an indication that there philosophy is a hollow one and must be abandoned. People do not give up their beliefs so easily.

  14. John Tucker says:

    You know all mater and energy in this universe derives from atomic processes? Even solar and wind is ultimately driven by the largest unshielded reactor in history.

    How demonizing and denying what you owe your very existence to and rely on for every particle of your sustenance to can work out well is beyond me.

  15. dan p says:

    Since you apparently want to be pedantic: all the universe’s matter and energy originate far in the past from processes at far higher temperatures than atoms (or nuclei) can exist. And the sun’s energy is fusion, not fission, anyway. And in any case I don’t see any bearing on the issue of what power sources are cheap, practical, or safe on Earth.

  16. John Tucker says:

    As for cost :

    Germany spent a total of €53bn in ten years on solar ( ) It has a capacity factor of 10 – 20 percent ( ) and produces about half the output of a modern reactor complex. ( ).

    Recently a the first reactor in a complex producing clean energy with several cost overruns and delays opened in Iran, with half the real capacity of Germanyś total solar output and no fanfare. Total cost 3 billion ( )

    So do the math.

  17. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Very good news indeed – not least by demonstrating to governments worldwide that even a major player like Seimens, with an exceptional design and engineering record, doesn’t view nuclear power as having a viable commercial future.

    The major practical benefit could be in the transfer of Seimens’ nuclear R&D capacity into baseload renewables, but this will to some extent be reduced by interest in coal-to-gas, coal-seam gas, etc, as well as the intermittent renewables.

    So Stephen – would there be any chance of an update over exactly what the company’s plans are concerning the re-direction of that R&D capacity ?



  18. John Tucker says:

    You addressed the technology as evil. I answered. For the amount of power produced its arguably also safer, less expensive, clearer and has less of an environmental footprint than any other power generation means out there.

    If you have a source that disputes that statement scientifically id like to see it. A crowd of People can say a lot of things, doesn’t make it anymore true.

  19. Joe Romm says:

    Most certainly not.

    New nukes are more expensive than wind and solar now, assuming you could even get a vendor or utility to guarantee a price, which you can’t. Try the links at the bottom of the page.

    I didn’t actually support the nuclear phaseout in Germany. But the fact that marketer-based economies have all but stopped ordering new nuclear plants has to do with price more been anything else. What Japan proved was that you can’t cut costs by skimping on safety.

  20. John Tucker says:

    Are they expensive because of litigation in certain nations?

    [JR: Nope. They are expensive everywhere.]

    Has the gas co-generation scheme also played into that? What of risk and actual casualty numbers? How much of this is real?

    I think those are legitimate questions.

    Someone also mentioned Toshiba:

    GE, Toshiba Extend Gas Turbine Services Joint Venture to Include H Technology ( )

    Companies follow profits. Individual profit success or profitability is not a guarantee of correctness, a more liberal human state, environmental viability or even national success. Unregulated it certainly is not conducive to species or human survivability.

  21. John Stanley says:

    Energy Storage, surely…

  22. Lou Grinzo says:

    I’ve long said that I find it more than a little revealing that the same portion of the political spectrum that’s so fond of “letting the free market decide” and keeping the gov’t from “picking winners” is also the home of the most relentless nuclear power supporters.

    I would love to see us do the following: End every cent of subsidies for all energy forms and put a stiff price on carbon emissions. Subsidies cut would include insurance coverage for nuclear plants, of course. What do we think would happen in the “free market”? We’d see fossil fuel use plummet, companies flee from nuclear as fast as possible, and an eruption of green investment (generation as well as conservation) and job growth. And, oh yeah — we’d see our CO2 emissions from electricity generation drop dramatically.

    It’s funny none of the right wingers ever seem to propose anything like that.

  23. John Tucker says:

    I also dont see the point or any productive outcome from pitting nuclear against solar. As a matter of fact its looking like a certain road to climate disaster, when both could contribute.

    The anti nuclear movement may be large, but in essence they are same biased anti science reason viable climate legislation has not been enacted.

    In the end that road is CERTAIN to lead to a greatly increased human carbon footprint.

    And yes I did read the links. I dont think the capacity factor is factored in adequately in the cost assessments, and no im not saying nuclear is always better than solar or even comparable. They are both very expensive.

    I dont even think the comparison should be made in a general context – as the initial circumstances, use benefits and requirements are variable and that oversimplified general comparison cannot even exist in argumentative reality.

    I honestly would like to see the anti nuclear line of reasoning as promotional tool for solar explained as legitimate strategy now, before this goes any further.

  24. John Tucker says:

    Then reconcile capacity factor and subsidies in the American cost assessment. It still looks about the same to me. Also cost assessments by industry are used for establishing rates. I would not expect transparency there.

  25. Paul Magnus says:

    Its all about risk … nuclear will and has kill a relatively small number (but this is still quite a large number and has still not been accurately quantified), but the potential is there to kill many and bring nations to their knees.

    And that is why its not a solution to coal. Its not worth the risk. As Japan now knows and Germany has caught on to.

    In any case it is not a viable solution to tackling GW because of the time of implementation and cost.

  26. SecularAnimist says:

    When ultra-cheap, super-efficient, mass-produced, 100 percent recyclable photovoltaics are producing more electricity than all of human civilization can figure out what to do with, fans of nuclear power will still be saying that solar can’t do the job and what’s needed is the 20th generation nuclear reactors that will be on the drawing boards in a few decades.

  27. Mark Shapiro says:

    The conservative arguments against nuclear:
    1) Nuclear power requires large government regulation, bureaucracies, and subsidies. Markets cannot optimize these features.
    2) Nuclear power creates risks which cannot be borne or insured by the owners or operators. This risk/return tradeoff cannot be market based.
    3) Nuclear power and nuclear materials are highly desirable terrorism targets. Nuclear power is already in the hands of unfriendly, unstable governments.

    It is astonishing — actually stupefying — that conservatives so rarely apply bedrock principals to nuclear power.

    Perhaps nuclear power corrupts by seduction.

  28. John Tucker says:

    Perhaps if solar made more than less than ONE HALF OF ONE PERCENT of world electricity. That would be nice to see happen before these ludicrous attempts to shut down something that makes over five. And even then it makes more sense to have them both.

    How is that even practicable.

    But here is what Siemens is banking on – the SGT5-8000H ( ) the worlds largest gas turbine. Paint it green and no one knows the difference. Certainly not around here it seems.

  29. John Tucker says:

    So you think im conservative and thats my justification for defending nuclear. Thats kinda funny if not telling in itself.

  30. Tony says:

    I some how wonder if the Stuxnet virus that was released in Iran’s nuclear facilities did not also play a part in this decision. Stuxnet was written for a specific hardware component manufactured by Siemens. Siemens had to be hopping mad over this, as well as incredibly embarrassed.

  31. Mark Shapiro says:

    No, I’m just making the case. It’s free for the taking. I’m just continually amazed that no conservatives ever make it.

    For clean energy, I’ll stick with renewables, efficiency, and simple conservation. They are very low risk, decentralized (available to all) and much more market friendly.

  32. John Tucker says:

    Siemens is following profit – they dont care, they are hugely vested in natural gas and supplemental fossil fuel technologies. They were also trying to get out of a contract deal with Rosatom, who services the nuclear side of reactors. They were to play silent partner and I imagine that was too much for them. The political racking up of populist points announcing this now was just a means with added benefit and branding. Siemens will actually continue to make turbines for use in nuclear plants. They are also moving heavily into energy efficiency contract work and security and surveillance contracts.

    As a foreign megga corp, heavily involved in fossil fuels also being awarded stimulus energy efficiency contracts here, in a way they are everything people on this side of the fence should be wary of. But thats another story and the greenwashing seems to be working out well for them.

  33. John Tucker says:

    As a matter of fact I wonder if they didn’t initially make that agreement with Rosatom to have access to the Bushehr Plant anyway. Certainly they wouldn’t be above being involved in that hack for a price. Not from looking at past dealings ( ).

  34. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Definitely excellent news.
    Clearly pissing off the shills no end.

  35. Mark Shapiro says:

    Thanks for providing one more example of nuclear power decreasing national security — make that global security.

    That’s two conservative strikes against nuclear:

    1) The security risks are not priced by the markets (to put it mildly).
    2) Here are three players — including an ally — using nuclear to weaken US security.

  36. Arne J says:

    Way to go, Siemens. Their shareholders will appreciate it.

    Nuclear will get more expensive (and risky, the odler it gets) while costs for renewables come down with rapid speed.

  37. David B. Benson says:

    Siemens quits the nuclear game
    offers a useful perspective.

  38. fftf says:

    Germany is abandoning nuclear for coal and gas. Renewables are the real greenwash. See the inconvenient data here:

    “Around 13 GW of thermal plant (mainly hard coal but some lignite and gas) are in various stages of construction in Germany

    Some 10 GW of thermal power generating capacity needs to be built in Germany by 2020 in addition to capacity already under construction to ensure a healthy reserve margin, the German government indicated in its decision Monday to close all the country’s nuclear power stations by 2022.”

    Good job!

  39. BlueRock says:

    You’re certainly running through all the pro-nuke / anti-renewable talking points in this thread. A proper little Gish Gallop.

    > Germany spent a total of €53bn in ten years on solar ( )

    RWI Essen is a pro-fossil / nuke, rightwing think tank. Not credible. Go to the official source:

    * Economic Analysis and Evaluation of the Effects for Germany. “The support of electricity generation from renewable energy sources (RES) in Germany thus far has been very effective. …the overall balance of positive and negative economic effects has already reached zero. Future economic benefits of increasing shares of renewable energy will be significant. In the electricity sector, prime costs, that would otherwise steadily increase, will be stabilized.”

    Germany’s *investment* in renewables has brought net economic benefit. There are now over 350,000 Germans employed in the RE industry.

    > It has a capacity factor of 10 – 20 percent…

    The capacity factor red herring. Electricity consumption is not constant throughout the day so production does not need to be constant. Solar closely matches the peak demand so it’s value is not calculated by your simplistic equation or by comparison with inflexible nukes.

    * “By 2020, Germany may realistically have 90 GW of solar and wind capacity to cover peak demand of generally no more than 75 GW. We will have surpassed peak demand parity.”

    > … Iran, with half the real capacity of Germanyś total solar output and no fanfare. Total cost 3 billion

    The wiki page says *at least* €3 billion – triple original estimates for an obsolete plant design that was started in 1975 and allegedly switched on only this year. That’s a very common theme with nukes: massively over budget, multiple delays and many years overdue.

    Also, it tells us nothing about what it would cost to build a new nuke today in the US or Europe.

    > So do the math.

    You need to do some research and thinking first. The open market is not interested in nukes. *All* investment is going to renewables – because they are cost competitive, because they are quick and reliable to build, because the fuel is free, because they are supported by the public – unlike nukes.

  40. BlueRock says:

    You forgot to quote the next sentence from

    * “Four out of nine German coal power stations and a lignite unit currently in construction are unlikely to be commissioned as originally scheduled in 2011 and 2012…”

    It’s quite possible others will be cancelled.

    Now look at what is predicted and you’ll see that your FUD about fossils is flawed:

    * “By 2020, Germany may realistically have 90 GW of solar and wind capacity to cover peak demand of generally no more than 75 GW. We will have surpassed peak demand parity.”

  41. David B. Benson says:

    Germany is already forced to import power from France and the Czech Republic. Guess how that power is generated.

    There is a good article about it from about last Thrusday in Der Spiegel Online. A merely factual analysis is in an fairly recent article from World Nuclear News.

  42. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Yes, Mike, in my opinion the pro-nuclear homunculi who have swarmed out of their hives since the Fukushima catastrophe are mostly shills for the fossil fuel industry, whose insane pro-nuclear enthusiasm is simply a ruse to delay renewables, and, now, to attack the Greens. Whether any individual pro-nuke commenter is honestly misinformed, a hostage to ‘techno-optimism’ or a paid up fossil fuel comment-bot, I cannot say, but the nuclear option is too dangerous, too expensive and absolutely unnecessary if enough time, money and effort is put into renewables and efficiency.

  43. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The nuclear enthusiasts cynically manipulate death-tolls because the mechanism of death from nuclear accidents is mostly long-term and eminently deniable. Prove you got your cancer from radiation, or tobacco smoke or asbestos etc. Cancer is a great boon to business pathocrats because the multi-factorial nature of its causes allows them to cynically under-estimate the death-toll. And did you see the homeless people at the anti-nuclear rally in Tokyo? They had been recruited by TEPCO to work at Fukushima, along with burakumin and Koreans, because their ill-health and premature death can easily be blamed on their impoverished lives as members of Japan’s underclass. Moreover the Japanese regime also arbitrarily increased the ‘safe exposures’ by five times.

  44. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Nuclear has the potential to kill millions or billions, through the escape of long-lasting poisons like plutonium, or through nuclear weapon proliferation. It is not and never has been worth the risks involved. We should have gone solar decades ago and kept our nuclear power safely ninety million miles away, but, as they used to say, it didn’t happen because ‘Standard Oil doesn’t own the Sun’.

  45. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    John, that is simply the basest casuistry. If nuclear processes are so benign, why don’t you sprinkle some plutonium on your breakfast, or pray for Eta Carinae to go hypernova soon in order to bake up some new uranium for some lucky future civilization to exploit.

  46. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Nuclear technology is only ‘evil’ in that it is mind-numbingly dangerous. That the pro-nuclear zealots deny that, or assert that we ought not to worry about it, leaves me radically unimpressed. And as I have said, I suspect this pro-nuclear zealotry to be largely confected to delay renewables in the interests of the fossil fuel business, the richest and most powerful in history.

  47. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Precisely! Rightwing ‘techno-optimists’ and ‘cornutopians’ never let the facts get in the way of the egomaniacal daydreams of human omniscience and infallibility. The belief that we are so clever that we will find some ‘techno-fix’ to the ecological collapse and go on feeding our monstrous self-esteem with more and more stuff, forever, is akin to a religious belief for this type, and they simply despise non-believers.

  48. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Nice squelching, BlueRock.

  49. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Don’t forget, Lou, that nuclear power is an integral part of the ‘Policy of Tension’, that is central to elite control over society. The extreme danger of nuclear, in its operating, mining, enrichment and waste management phases, both from accidental releases of toxic substances and from the dangers of terrorism and proliferation, have been used as excuses for draconian laws to be introduced regarding security. The more of these the better, as people feel constantly threatened by various real and concocted dangers, acquiesce to more and more intrusive surveillance and monitoring by the ‘security forces’ and come more and more to believe that their ‘safety’ is only guaranteed by increasingly authoritarian and intrusive government. Nuclear ticks all the Right’s boxes-it delays renewables, keeping fossil fuels supreme, it wastes money that might otherwise be ‘thrown away’ on social welfare for moochers, it enrich big corporations and it promotes paranoia and fearfulness, conditions the Right promotes as they see them as politically advantageous to their side.

  50. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Nuclear and solar are, at the moment, expensive, but solar is rapidly becoming less so, whereas nuclear just keeps getting more expensive, even without ‘externalities’ like irradiating Japan taken into account.

  51. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    You seem to be one of those denialists (we have many such over here) who believe that solar will never grow cheaper, never expand its capacity and never become more efficient. You seem unaware of, or simply to deny, the great strides made in recent years, possibly because it is inconvenient to your argument.

  52. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    It’s refreshing to find grounds for some agreement. Seimens no doubt, is greenwashing itself, and will probably still be involved in nuclear somewhere, but with plausible deniability. That doesn’t alter the fact that nuclear is too dangerous, too expensive and unnecessary.

  53. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    David –
    would anyone who wants an impartial perspective really go looking for World Nuclear News ?

    Most of us, including your good self, have been around long enough to know that Nuclear’s fundamental dependence on state support means that its primary dependence is actually on propagandizing its supposed benefits to the public,
    – regardless of the reality of its glaring deficiencies,
    – and regardless of the rise of alternative baseload power from renewables.

    That dishonesty in the nuclear corporations is not only audible to the public and thus self-defeating, I suggest it is also corrosive of good management practice from the boardroom down. Risks are denied, not addressed; regulators are deflected or suborned, not respected.

    Tepco exemplifies that corruption – it ignored the geologists’ report in 2000 of an ~800yr cycle of Mag 9.0 earthquake & tsunami that was 40 years overdue, and instead bulled through an extension past the design life of reactors at Fukushima. And it still maintains the pretence that it was not the earthquake but an unexpectedly large tsunami that destroyed the cooling systems, despite clear evidence and staff accounts to the contrary.

    When that systemic corruption has evidently been extended even into the global industry ‘regulator’, the IAEA,
    – for instance with its vague statements in May about “ongoing problems at Fukushima” while the reality was that three reactors had clearly melted down within days of the earthquake,
    it is plain to most rational observers that this potentially calamitous industry is not sustainable and wouldn’t warrant further taxpayer/state support even if it became financially competitive.

    Seimens’ decision to withdraw from the industry only confirms the spreading official recognition of this reality.



  54. netzweltler says:

    Germany has always been importing power from France and Czech Republic. And there was a 50% increase of imported power from France this year. Overall Germany is still exporting more power than it is importing. But I would’t wonder if Germany temporarily needs more imports for the next decade, until the price of renewables is becoming competitive. So what?

  55. Davos says:

    So… How does eliminating Nuclear and Natural Gas (portion from fracking) factor into the “Wedge” diagram designed to facilitate the transition to renewables and CO2 mitigation..? Is it becoming an impossible proposition?

  56. Sasparilla says:

    Davos, I believe Joe has said previously that the Nuclear wedge could be replaced easily, by renewables if needed (since Nuclear was so expensive and slow to build). Natural Gas is a more complex question that Joe would have to answer.

    As far as reaching impossible – the key point in this is whether we get moving on a massive scale – at this point moving a little clearly isn’t possible in the US for the foreseeable future (I expect all Federal support for Wind and Solar to be killed if the GOP sweeps and if they have at least one house then we can expect all those Federal supports to die as they expire in the next couple of years – it would seem that the results of that won’t be industry ending in the US but it would certainly slow down).

    Its nice to see another player drop from the Nuclear market. Fukushima knocked the legs out from under this monster. Nice to see our current Administration has finally stopped trying to shout out how good Nuclear is (guess they finally got the message, quite a while, after the tragedy in Japan).

    There are still plenty of vendors and there will be more plants built (many less now) and I’ll take whatever low carbon nuclear plants do get built, but I think Arne J said it the best – nuclear, long term, is dead because of cost, its main competitors (CO2 free wind and solar) will continue to decline in costs and just marginalize nuclear out of existence in the low carbon market.

  57. David B. Benson says:

    Lewis Cleverdon — World Nuclear News is actually an excellent source. Try it for awhile and you’ll see.

    Any electrical grid will have to involve some governmental aspects as it is, by its nature, a natural monopoly and so must be regulated.

    It is fairly easy to be wise after the event. But before? Please read Henry Petroski’s “To EnginEER is Human”.

  58. David B. Benson says:

    Sasparilla — Here is a reference grid which I use. The nighttime demand is 20 GW for 7 hours and the daytime demand is 28 GW for 17 hours, 6 am to 11 pm. (This was done by scaling and simplifying from actual load data.)

    The requirement is to provide for this load reliably, 24/7, 52 weeks per year. You’ll quickly find that wind + solar cannot do this except at prodigous cost. The economics quickly demonstrate that of the scalable low-carbon technologies, only nuclear power plants (NPPs) can economically energize the reference demand.

  59. John Tucker says:

    I wonder if anyone else noticed you actually did not reference or address any of the concerns I posted. Case in point of why the antinuclear movement is such a disaster.

    No reference for the cost of a solar conversion that runs at below 10 percent of its nameplate rating and doesn’t replace HALF of a modern nuclear plant.

    No actual reference on the Iran plant.

    So who needs to do some research again?

    By the way also thats not a Gish Gallop.

  60. John Tucker says:

    Although it contained nothing that actually answered the premises of the argument and no clarifying reference on the issues.

  61. John Tucker says:

    Here is the latest government professional scientific analysis of the situation with solar ¨not becoming a significant source of power¨ by 2035 ( )

  62. John Tucker says:

    I am not sure that is still true

    Germany becoming a net importer rather than exporter of electricity, Destatis said. ( )

  63. John Tucker says:

    As an your unreferenced opinion thats fine. I like to make important decisions on more.

  64. John Tucker says:

    BTW Germany’s PV solar capacity factor, the ratio of actual energy output over the year and the energy the plant would have produced at full nameplate capacity was 9.5% to 11% in EVERYTHING I HAVE READ, and its terrible by most industry standards, if you have a different referenced number you need to present it.

  65. John Tucker says:

    It simply comes down to reality, David. I like solar, especially rooftop solar near equatorial regions for its efficiency and low profile footprint. But to expect some token installation of solar (which is basically all thats been done till now) is going to replace nuclear power and do anything to realistically slow global warming, at this level of utilization, is ridiculous.

  66. Joe Romm says:

    EIA has never made an accurate forecast.

  67. John Tucker says:

    Since German solar is referenced so much in the comments and is indirectly referenced in the article graphics I would like to see some numbers – from a discussion on the oil drum:

    During the 2000-2009 period, Germany installed 9,830 MW of PV solar systems at a cost of about 9,830,000 kW x $6,000/kWh (2000-2009 average) = $59 billion

    For the systems installed during the 2000-2009 period, the FIT amount that has been paid by utilities for the PV solar power fed into the grid from the start of 2000 and that will be paid until the end of 2029 has been estimated at $73.2 billion.
    ( )

    The ENTIRE installed solar PV of Germany puts out about half of the yearly output of a modern reactor complex. (assuming 14,397 GWh output – 2010 number of 17 GW Nameplate)

    Thats not cost effective replacement, and it certainly wasn’t ¨green¨ to shut off those reactors with no viable plan or replacement other than high carbon fossil fuels.

    If that is incorrect point out the error and/or make a referenced argument.

  68. John Tucker says:

    And thats using 9.5 percent as the German solar PV capacity factor. And im sorry I do that but its what it actually was in 2009.

    You see when you install solar in a northern temperate seasonal climate region you have to remember they also use more power in the winter, so compared to installing solar in say Arizona, that has a capacity factor of around 19 percent and higher electricity demand in the summer, well there its efficient utilization of resources – but back in Germany – not so much.

    As a matter of fact it seems like embarrassingly bad decision making.

    Also mixed quoting of energy prices subsidized and not, as in previous entries on the German energy situation is not helping any arguments. Correct Stephen?

  69. John Tucker says:

    Like by using real long term research as opposed to the anti nuclear movement quoting defunct east block journals and studies without any peer review?

  70. John Tucker says:

    Delay renewables HOW? How on earth when the anti nuclear moment actually encourages the USE OF FOSSIL FUELS.

    Greenpeace actually is suggesting japan do just that to replace nuclear. Here is there ¨study¨:

    Gas: increase average capacity factor of all gas power plants and
    use them as base load power plants over the coming years. By
    2020, the average capacity factor will be back on “standard levels”.
    • Back-up power: Use gas power plants to counter flexible
    generation. Gas power plants will be used to cover dips in flexible
    generation, and no additional capacity will be needed as current
    gas power generation capacity is more than enough to cover the
    entire time period 2012 – 2020.

    The rest of it is even more ABSURD,

  71. John Tucker says:

    I dont put uranium or gallium arsenide on my cereal. Is that some kind of argument? because the coal that Germany is falling back on actually releases more radioactive isotopes into the environment than a nuclear plant. ( )

  72. John Tucker says:

    Germany to use coal, gas power plants as backup ( )

    Kurth cautioned that while renewable energies remain promising, they “have to be complemented with conventional power plants because wind and solar energy won’t be readily available around the clock in the next few years.”

    Kurth also promoted the idea of allowing some coal-fired power plants in western and central Germany to operate longer than previously planned to ensure adequate power supply.

    ( )

    Unfortunately reality based reality is happening in the real world.

  73. John Tucker says:

    Do you feel like its going particularly well joe? As unqualified as I probably am I should look at that more closely then and see why that projection is so dismal. Since no one else is providing an up to date estimate or model.

  74. netzweltler says:

    Other artciles show different results ( if you can read German). You must know that nuclear and carbon lobby are still fighting in Germany. But even this article states that there has been an increase in imports, that’s right.

  75. John Tucker says:

    So as much as capacity factor is dismissed its actually kinda important with intermittent renewables. Solar and Wind both require backup. Now thats almost exclusively NG and coal.

    Solar is around 10 – 20 percent and wind around 20 – 30 – one might be going sometimes when the other is not but wind also is mechanical and requires maintenance. Also if you rely on all three you need to add the base CO2 investment. So rough guesstimate that option is over a third to just over a half less CO2 than natural gas.

    correct ?

    Nuclear energy is about 80 to 90 percent so its about one eighth to a tenth less CO2 than natural gas. (depending how you got your backup)

    Using these numbers ( )

    Electricity technology (g CO2-e/kWhel)

    Light water reactors 60 (10 – 130)
    Natural gas (open cycle) 751 (627 – 891)
    Natural gas (combined cycle) 577 (491 – 655)
    Wind turbines 21 (13 – 40)
    Photovoltaics 106 (53 – 217)

    Of course there are other neutral fuels – but because they are not generally large capacity they wouldn’t work in all situations.


    Seems like that should be at least asked about a long time ago in this discussion.

  76. John Tucker says:

    Im sorry should be nuclear is one eighth to one tenth the CO2 of natural gas.

    Wind and solar is one fourth to just over one half less.

    They are not even close to equivalent comparisons. Not counting methane either.

    Of course Nuclear/wind/solar would be functional at all levels and places and optimal at reducing emissions.

  77. netzweltler says:

    Wind is able to contribute 70% (depending on installed over-capacity even 80%) to a full renewable supply scenario. Since the workload of a wind power station is not more than 8 to 25% of the nominal capacity (onshore) you need to install 6 to 7 times over-capacity. If you are tracking the workload curves of wind power of the last twelve months in Germany you can conclude, that wind can directly supply 70% of power demand given a 7-time over-capacity. Only 30% is needed from the other sources solar, biomass, hydro, geothermal, and last but not least methane from solar or wind power (renewable gas).

    Over-capacity cannot only be reached by installing more and more wind power stations. If the almost 22,000 wind power stations in Germany would be 7.5 MW stations, this would result in six time more total wind power as today (165,000 MW installed capacity instead of 27,500 MW).

  78. Anne van der Bom says:

    Yes, if 4th generation fast breeder reactors are only half as good as the nuclear engineers claim, they are wonderful. Just like nuclear fusion. Fot both technologies it is the timeline that matters. When is it ready for mass implementation? That’s why I think James Hansen is wrong. The technology is ok, but it can not help the urgent climate crisis which demands action NOW.

    So, development should continue, but in the mean time, rollout of renewables should be aggressively pursued too.

  79. Anne van der Bom says:

    You are focusing too much on ‘capacity factor’. It is a favourite attack vector by opposers of renewable energy because it is usually lower than conventional generating technologies and therefore allows them to ‘prove’ that renewables are inferior.

    Let me try to explain.

    Wind turbines do not have a fixed relation between the nominal capacity of the generator and the rotor diameter. There is some flexibility. Suppose a manufacturer chooses to reduce the power of the generator while keeping all other parameters the same. In high wind, the generator will reach its limit sooner and cap the power being generated. In the medium and low winds (which is most of the time), there is no difference. The result will be that this turbine generates less energy overall. But due to the lower nominal capacity, it has a higher capacity factor.

    According to you, a smaller generator would always be an improvement, because it results in a higher capacity factor.

    Please, if you want to discuss, fine, but do come up with reasonable arguments. Try to keep the complete picture. All generating technologies have their pro’s and con’s and only by weighing them all you can judge them. Not by fixating yourself on just one thing.

    The very, very big advantage of solar power (and by that I mean PV), is that it can be deployed on existing structures and does not need to claim any land. It has no moving parts, does not make noise, and emits no toxins. In that respect, it is ‘free’ energy. The disadvantage is the low capacity factor but since the production peaks during the day when power consumption also peaks, it has a big advantage over wind, which can peak during the night when demand is low.

    The main challenge lies in combining all these technologies into something that works. Capacity factor is not a consideration to judge technologies a priori.

  80. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Yes we know that John, and it releases mercury, too. And lots more rubbish. But so too does nuclear release dangerous rubbish. And the nuclear waste is hot for millennia. The denial of what is going on at Fukushima is as bad, in a way, as climate destabilisation denialism, in my opinion at least. Our least bad option, by far, is renewables, and every cent spent on nuclear instead of renewables delays their rise, to the benefit of fossil fuels. Of course nuclear would be preferable to fossil fuels, and as useful as renewables, if it was cheaper and less dangerous (different in my understanding from ‘safer’)than it certainly is.

  81. David B. Benson says:

    I fear not as the wind in a region is highly correlated. Furthermore the hottest summer days occur when the wind isn’t blowing and similarly for the coldest winter nights; ERCOT (Texas grid) has discovered this the hard way.

  82. netzweltler says:

    For the days of no wind the power comes from other sources. Audi and SolarFuel are testing methane (renewable gas). This gas is generated using excessive wind and solar power and can be stored in the gas grid for up to 220 TWh of energy, enough for 2 – 3 months to supply the german energy demand.

  83. Arthurson says:

    I am curious what Stewart Brand has to say now about nuclear power, post Fukushima and now after this decision by Siemens to pull out of the nuclear industry. Does anyone know?