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Many years ago, although it seems like centuries, I was sitting in a small bar-disco in a town near Stuttgart Germany, talking to an Ivy League type from the same brigade in the U.S. Army as myself, as well as a friend of his who was the son of a former German general, but whose Christian name was definitely American/English.
I of course asked him how so many Germans could have jumped for joy when Adolph Hitler declared war on the United States (on December 11, 1941). Didn't they understand what that was going to mean? Didn't the German generals understand?
What I now call the 'TV audience' apparently didn't (for the most part) have the slightest idea of the consequences of that folly. The generals did of course, or at least most of them, but as my friend's friend said, what could they do -- the rank and file, the foot soldiers, overwhelmingly believed in 'Adi'.
This didn't sound right to me until I heard the same thing from a woman whose work is always cited in my books, Hildegard Harlinger, a researcher at the IFO Institute für Wirtschaftsforschung (Munich). Then it made all the sense in the world, because I was going to teach game theory, and was familiar with the conversation between John von Neumann and Jacob Bronowski during a taxi ride in Wartime London. The man who was called 'the best brain of the 20th century' made it clear that game theory is basically not about those beautiful equations we write on black and white boards, but 'bluffing, little tactics of deception, etc', which means departing from the rationality we hear so much about in abstract economic theory.
We don't see much of that kind of thinking in the standard textbooks of game theory, but there is plenty of it on the nuclear scene. In addition to the nuclear foolishness that Chancellor Angela Merkel claims to subscribe to, an important contender for the Socialist Party's leadership in the 2012 presidential election in France has said that France should only get 50 percent of its power from nuclear by 2025. The rest of this fantasy is well described by Tara Patel (2011), to include a pronouncement by the present French Prime Minister, Francois Fillon, who reaffirms that "France's goal is first of all to ensure its energy independence".
France's goal is more than that. It is to profit from the insane German decision to reduce nuclear capacity in the near future by 25%, and to liquidate their nuclear sector by 2022. As a one time student of physics, Angela Merkel almost certainly has an inkling of the bêtise of this option, but votes are votes, and if she prefers the Reichstag to watching (on her wide-screen TV) her political rivals staring across the table at charmers like Messrs Sarkozy and Berlusconi, she evidently feels that she has no choice but to accept what the great American songwriter Irvine Berlin called 'Doing what comes naturally', which in this case means supporting a program that makes no technical or economic sense.
Returning to France, l can conclude this discussion by repeating what I say about their energy ambitions in my forthcoming energy economics textbook (2011). First and foremost they want to remedy the problems experienced with the bothersome construction (by Areva) of the 1600 Megawatt (Generation 3) reactor in Finland, the largest in the world, and in doing so demonstrate to all interested parties that France can still deliver the nuclear goods. The vehicles for this ambition are the reactors being constructed at Flamanville, and proposed for Penry. Ceteris paribus, carrying out and extending this program will be a fillip for the French economy in these perilous times.
And last but not least, for the many who failed to read the last chapters in their favourite Econ 101 textbooks, a total (or maybe even a partial) German nuclear retreat will be an unhappy event for much of Europe. Accordingly the answer to the question in the title of this note is so obvious that I will leave it for my future students and other interested persons to answer and discuss.
Banks, Ferdinand E. (2011). Energy and Economic Theory. London, New York and Singapore: World Scientific.
Harlinger, Hildegard (1975). 'Neue modelle für die zukunft der menshheit' . IFO Institute Für Wirtschaftforschung (Munich).
Patel, Tara (2011). 'France won't build nuclear reactors to make up for shutdowns in Germany. Bloomberg (Bloomberg Economic News).
For information on purchasing reprints of this article, contact sales. Copyright 2013 CyberTech, Inc.
I recall many years ago when the early British nuclear reactors generated an output of around 100MW. The economics of such output reduced nuclear's competitiveness. Perhaps nuclear power may realise economic benefits from the economy of scale, in the form of power stations capable of efficiently delivering the output of the large coal-fired power plants that are coming on stream in South Africa.
The development of a higher temperature, helium-cooled reactor that can convert conventional light water into steam to drive turbines was a necessary step in the right direction.
Should cost competitive nuclear power stations of 5000MW output become possible, Germany and France may likely install such technology.
Ferdinand E. Banks 10.20.11
When I think about nuclear at this moment in time, I think about the article I just read in a Swedish newspaper about the richest countries in the world ('wealth-wise in some way). Sweden is sixth, while Switzerland is first, and France is fourth. Singapore, Australia and Norway are also at the top. The only one of those I have not lived in is Norway, but their wealth is of course based on oil and gas: they dont need nuclear, Nor does Australia, whose wealth at the present time is based on the enormous amount of coal and other minerals bought by China, while Singapore's wealth is based on not letting dunces run the country. Sweden and Switzerland are heavily nuclear intensive, and filled with ignoramuses that will do away with nuclear, although without it they would NOT be at the top of the wealth parade. France is the most nuclear intensive country in the world, and they intend to keep things that way, regardless of what the high and mighty might say. Regardless of what many people think, they will NOT be playing the nuclear fool.
Jim Beyer 10.25.11
I think it is so odd that any leader thinks they can do away with any major source of power so quickly. If there's anything I've learned about the power industry, it's that it is huge. To talk about changes of anything more than a few percent over the course of a decade is simply unrealistic. How could the Germans reduce nuclear power use by 25% so quickly? What would they replace it with? It simply boggles the mind.
Fred Linn 10.25.11
Natural gas and biogas. Methane, CH4.
bill payne 10.25.11
Fun to read your stuff although you appear to try to maximize the words to get your throughts across.
------" A nuclear power phase-out is the discontinuation of usage of nuclear power for energy production. Often initiated because of concerns about nuclear power, phase-outs usually include shutting down nuclear power plants and looking towards renewable energy and other fuels. Austria was the first country to begin a phase-out (in 1978) and has been followed by Sweden (1980), Italy (1987), Belgium (1999), and Germany (2000). Austria, and Spain have gone as far as to enact laws not to build new nuclear power stations. Several other European countries have debated phase-outs. As of June 2011, Germany and Switzerland are phasing-out nuclear power. As of June 2011, countries such as Australia, Austria, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Israel, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Norway remain opposed to nuclear power."---------
I think the French better sell their reactors fast----the market is shrinking quickly.
Don Hirschberg 10.25.11
Time span for a politician is measured in time to his next election, i.e. shorter then the gestation period of a nuclear plant and much shorter than the spans of protocols such as Kyoto. Who were those guys?
Ferdinand E. Banks 10.26.11
Angela Merkel is selling her country out for another term of office. Why doesn't somebody tell her that german speakers like Marlene Dietrich and Romy Schneider were welcomed to Hollywood with open arms. I'm sure that she would be welcome too.
Fred Linn wants the French to sell their reactors because the market is shrinking. Now there is a brilliant suggestion.
Frank von Scholz 10.26.11
And what if "the Germans" can do it with limited damage to their industry, residents, etc.... neighboring countries. Anyhow, these are interesting times in Germany with a few "funny" situations such as green party politicians in charge of an economically important and potent "Land" supporting the shut-down of nuclear units, refusing to build coal-fired power plants, and pushing for renewable energy (pump storage and on-shore wind), but having to fight some of their own colleagues and classic green voters on sitting issues for pump storage and wind-onshore as well as people gathering and organizing against the needed construction of new power transmission lines needed to help the nuclear exit. But if this works ….
Don Hirschberg 10.26.11
After hectoring us for these many years I see Germany still gets 44% of its electricity from coal. Seems to me simultaneously closing down coal burners and nuclear plants is quite a stunt. Or are they blowing smoke?
Fred Linn 10.26.11
The city of Lunen, Germany, (pop. 90,000) last commenced operation of a dedicated biogas and distributed generation electtrical grid. Pipeline purity biomethane is produced by anaerobic digestion from sewage collected from livestock farms in the vicinity. Distributed zone electrical generation by diesel engines running on the biomethane make CHP practical, producing both heat for buildings and water, as well as electrical needs. In addition, CNG is becoming a significant factor as a transportation fuel----with all manufacturers offering factory installed systems as well as a strong conversion after market. Almost all of the vehicles are bi-fuel capable. Lunen supplies all of its energy needs, and a significant portion of transportation fuel needs with this system, and there is still enough biomethane left over to pump into the national natural gas pipeline grid.
Germany originally set a goal of supplying 20% of their natural gas usage by the year 2020----however, at the pace of current installations, they will meet and exceed this goal by 2015.
Germany is also working on methane clathrate deposits in the North Sea and Baltic Sea. They are also working with Japan(which already has extensive methane clathrate experience) in the Sea of Japan tapping methane deposits there.
Methane, CH4, is both a fossil fuel(natural gas, clathrates) and a biofuel,(biogas, biomethane). It can be manufactured low tech, inexpensively and easily from any type of biomass at all, including sewage and landfills.
Methane is already a gas. Smoke is PMs(particulate matter). Burning methane produces no smoke. I think the smoke in your eyes must be from coal.
Fred Linn 10.26.11
BTW Don----the only thing that is done with coal is boil water. You can boil water just fine with natural gas----no strip mines(you can't strip mine a gas), no smoke, and no ashes, soot or creosote left over.
Natural gas is clean enough to cook with in your house unvented-----millions of people do.
The only thing you need to do to convert a coal burning plant to natural gas is remove the coal grates from the furnaces and install natural gas burners. Nothing else needs to change, buildings, boilers, turbines, generators, condensers, controls, grid connections----all remain the same. You won't need trains, dump hoppers, bulldozers, trucks, skip loaders, conveyors and sundry other equipment----natural gas is delivered by pipeline directly to the burner.
Ferdinand E. Banks 10.27.11
Get this one everybody.
We had the most inexpensive electricity in Europe in Sweden because of nuclear (and hydro). Germany had the most expensive. So brilliant academics and civil servants and politicians and rappers and moonwalkers declared that the way to reduce electricity prices in Sweden was to run wires between Germany and Sweden.
One of the smartest guys I knew in Sweden knew that that was completely and totally stupid, but he didn't want to insult people like Fred Linn and Green Ignoramuses by saying so.
Conclusion: this is the kind of world we live in. And to top it off, Fred Linn wants the French to dump their nuclear assets. What will it be next?
Fred Linn 10.27.11
-------" What will it be next?"--------
Coal and petroleum.
Fred Linn 10.27.11
BTW----Europe Energy Portal lists the following as energy cost per EU member state.
Sweden electricity cost(euros) .0844 Kwh
Sweden natural gas(euros) .0636 Kwh
Equal amounts of energy from natural gas costs only 75% what it costs from electricity.
Ferdinand E. Banks 10.28.11
Everyone, except bystanders who are completely and totally stupid, knows that you do not dump a functioning system that features nuclear and hydro, in order to introduce gas. Finland had Norwegian gas on one side, and Russian gas on the other, and still they bought the largest reactor in the world, and agreed to order one or two more. And ostensibly Finland will also construct the largest biomass facility in the world. I won't go into the mechanics of this choice, but I am sure that the EUROPE ENERGY PORTAL will explain it to interested parties.
There is a flaw in the study. The radiation released from Fukushima is not 40% as much as Chernobyl.
It is 40% as much as Chernobyl...........IN ADDITION to Chernobyl..............IN ADDITION to above ground nuclear tests..........IN ADDITION to Hiroshima and Nagasaki...........IN ADDITION to all other leaks everywhere. Radiation stays in the environment. And it can be concentrated in the food chain.
Don Hirschberg 10.28.11
Official Japanese long-term studies report that the Japanese who got substantial radiation at Hiroshima and Nagasaki have experienced lower death rates and have been statistically healthier than those not so exposed. At the moment I don’t have an address for the data but it should not be hard to find.
When I read the report I was puzzled and remain puzzled why the story was not widely reported to the public. I have been waiting. (My ancient Atomic Warfare training taught radiation was bad and additive. Seems that is too simple.)
Fred Linn 10.28.11
That is just plain old bullshit.
Fred Linn 10.29.11
Radiation Exposure and Cancer----Radiation Exposure and Cancer
Fred. 1) The referenced article does not address hormesis, nor the liklihood that the untested Linear No Threshold theory may not actually be true. 2) "According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nuclear power plant operations account for less than one-hundredth (1/100) of a percent of the average American's total radiation exposure."
Don Hirschberg 10.30.11
When I mentioned the very long term data (like 50 or 60 years) of the Japanese report about health of A-Bomb survivors I was hoping someone would jump in and say, “Yes, I have seen that too” and cite a site.” That would have excused me from the time and effort of looking for it. (Kinda weak but true.)
When I was in Atomic Warfare School (circa 1950) we saw much data about leukemia – which was used as a measure of the damage to humans by radiation from the bombs. At that time this was called long time effects even though it was only about 5 years after the bombings. Seemed to make sense to me at the time. This was classified information so I will not say more about it.
(Aside: As a new 2nd Lt I once was in charge of destroying about a couple hundred pounds of files from WWI I recall much of it was personal information about officers in south western European countries who knew about chemical warfare agents and tactics. Used a leaf burner on a Sunday morning so as to not interfere with other business or training. (Hence my reluctance.) What I know now that I didn’t know then was that since leukemia is not a major cause of death, even a substantial increase in the incidence of leukemia might not be an important factor in longevity.
Don Hirschberg 10.30.11
That should read southeastern European countries, not southwestern, and as a paragraph:
What I know now that I didn’t know then was that since leukemia is not a major cause of death, even a substantial increase in the incidence of leukemia might not be an important factor in longevity.
Don Hirschberg 10.30.11
I have tracked down the report that challenges the conventional wisdom (and data) of the harmful or not so harmful effects of radiation. On march 18 Ann Coulter published a column “A Glowing Report on Radiation.” This seems to be the genesis of the hullabaloo.
I tried to find a rejoinder but did not find one. Where did everyone go?
To read the article go to The Drudge Report, Click on Ann Coulter. Then her Archives, then on 3/18/11.
Ferdinand E. Banks 11.3.11
I was just in Singapore giving some lectures on nuclear and oil, and the Fred Linn's in the sessions kept their mouths shut.
In case you dont know Mr Linn, The Japanese have the longest length of life (longevity) in the industrial world. Try looking at the CIA statistics on this matter. Then look at the average length of life for the nuclear countries. Surprise, surprise, they are....
Fred Linn 11.18.11
-----------" even a substantial increase in the incidence of leukemia might not be an important factor in longevity."----------