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Friday, August 24. 2012
Then the tsunami came along, knocked out the backup generators, and the whole thing went into the toilet.
Then the Japanese government freaked out and shut down all of their nuclear power plants due to 'safety concerns'. The first one finally went back on line a few weeks ago, a year and a half later.
Now, a little panic and overreaction from a government is hardly anything new. We see it here all the time. Some 11-year-old moron puts out an eye with a bottle rocket and immediately all fireworks are banned throughout the county. About the only thing they have in some places these days are sparklers and snakes. Happens all the time.
But then Germany got into the act, likewise shutting down all of its nuke plants over safety concerns, all of which raises one of the greatest questions of all time:
There are tsunamis in Germany?
Earthquakes, sure, but, as Fukushima testified, nuke plants can be built to withstand earthquakes just fine. So what the German high command was really saying to its citizenry was, "We're afraid we're going to get hit by a tsunami any minute now." That, all by itself, might have earned Germany the coveted title, Fool of the Decade.
But it gets even worse than that.
When they built Fukushima, they constructed a sea wall that would withstand the highest tsunami in Japanese recorded history, back in the 30's. These people obviously aren't fools, and they well knew that (1) the reactors would probably withstand a major quake just fine, but (2) a tsunami breaching the sea wall would do them in. So they obviously put a lot of research into it.
Okay, so why did the tsunami breach the sea wall?
So, to sum up, not only did Germany shut down its entire nuclear power industry because they were afraid of getting hit by a tsunami, but it turns out the tsunami they based this on was such an unlikely event that, until now, it had only been hypothesized.
Germany, take a bow. You win.
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Ack, I'll bet it was hockey stick Mann that convinced them that all the glacier melt water from the Alps was going to get them. And probably from three, not two, alpine valleys. My God, will someone save the poor milk maids....cough, cough, and the beer maids too.
Bwah-hah! Another fun post, Doc. Jeez -- you have to wonder if anyone in the German high command ever had the courage to raise the point that there traditionally aren't a lot of tsunamis in Germany. "Apparently not" would appear to be the answer. What a bunch of doofuses. Doofusi?
Since we're dealing with a group of people, it would be doofusæ. You obviously need to brush up on your Latin.
And yeah, good question. It is truly one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen a nation do. And the cost won't just be with re-routing lines and buying power from neighboring countries and all that. Engines and motors and machines are designed to be in their natural state of running. Shutting operations like this down is going to prematurely wear out a lot of parts. It's the same reason you're supposed to run the AC in your car now and then during the winter and the heater during the summer. Motors don't like standing still.
What a blow-it on Germany's part. Sheesh.
And the cost won't just be with...buying power from neighboring countries and all that.
Such as purchasing power from France, which gets 80% of its electrical output from nuclear power.
Is it that much? France is so full of frumblebunnies (I just made that up, but I think it's going to be a big, BIG hit) that I'm surprised it isn't overrun with anti-nuke zealots, like Germany, Switzerland and Italy. The last two also shut down some of their plants after Fukushima, but not to the extent that Germany did. These people are friggin' losin' it.
France has 58 nuclear reactors operated by Electricite de France (EdF), with total capacity of over 63 GWe, supplying 421 billion kWh per year of electricity (net), 78% of the total generated there in 2011. . According to Wiki, France's proportion of electrical energy generated by nuclear power is the highest in the world.
I was reading an article this morning on the wind farm subsidies drying up at the end of the year -- the author, unsurprisingly, was for renewing them -- and it mentioned that the U.S. is currently producing something 384,000 kilowatt hours! 384,000! That's a LOT!
"supplying 421 billion kWh"
Okay, kind of a lot.
O.K. So that covers ONE of Al Gores houses, now what?
I like it. Obviously it means - - - - well for now it means whatever I want it to mean. And I'm sure France is full of 'em.
Thanks. The recognition from one's peers means everything.
BTW, those were some superb comments on your part in this morning's links. You definitely know your stuff.
It wasn't a tsunami they were worried about, it was an electoral wave. As for the voters, who knows what they were worried about. Apparently they have no problem with nuclear-generated electricity as long as it comes from France, where they'll be buying all their power from now on, aside from all the local coal-generated stuff, which suddenly is OK.
In view of all the anti-carbon Americans who are prepared to buy electric cars that are powered primarily by coal-burning power plants, who can be surprised? For that matter, corn-based ethanol fuel that costs more in fossil fuels to raise than it saves in car tanks pretty much showed us that the symbology here is completely irrational.
PS, I think I was directed to this "Kickstarter" link about micro-solar panels here a few days ago. They're 2/3 of their way to their goal only 1/3 of the way through the month they allotted for their drive. It's worth checking out, if only to receive one of their solar kits in the mail, which I am now eagerly awaiting.
Doc - that event is something we discussed long ago - a Black Swan.
It was hypothesized, it was considered improbable, even unlikely, and therefore not felt meaningful enough to consider possible. That is, until it actually happened.
Is Germany crazy? Probably. I doubt many tsunamis hit Germany, let alone double or triple tsunamis. But I'll give them a teensy-weensy bit of credit for preparing for a Black Swan event.
The problem with Black Swan events is that the cost of preparing for them often outweighs the benefits gained. Not always. So shutting down the industry as a whole is clearly excessive and not cost efficient (my guess is something else was at play here and the tsunami represented a viable excuse to do something they wanted to do anyway).
But it certainly doesn't hurt to take a look and consider all possible options. After all, back in the 90's the Mississippi had a 50 year flood followed by a 100 year flood. What were the odds of that happening in close proximity? Or having Florida hit by 3 hurricanes in one year?
Stuff happens, and sometimes taking the time to prepare for the most bizarre Hollywood event isn't a bad idea. But you're absolutely correct that taking steps to an illogical extreme is terribly foolish.
"(my guess is something else was at play here and the tsunami represented a viable excuse to do something they wanted to do anyway)."
I'd say that hits the nail on the head. As Texan99 said up above, the 'electoral wave' probably played a big part, and whatever Lefties were in power probably figured they could garner a few votes from the large German green crowd, then simply use "safety concerns" to placate the general populace.
And if I may correct a small error:
"Or having Florida hit by 3 hurricanes in one year?"
Five. Bonnie, Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. Bonnie was right at the start of the 2004 season, hit the panhandle and petered out pretty quickly, so nobody remembers it. The other four, however, were the real deal, as I documented here. Yep, good times, good times -- at least for those of us who lived.
As for Isaac, it's been veering slightly to the west with every update, so the brunt of it might miss us. Hopefully, we'll just end up with high winds and a shitload of rain -- i.e., a typical tropical storm, which isn't unusual, given that we're in the tropics.
LOL...OK five. I remember three because 2 were mostly western/panhandle hurricanes while Charley, Frances and Jeanne all passed pretty much directly over my in-laws.
Much damage on their barrier island. All fixed pretty quickly.
After they passed that anti-gouging law, though, Katrina (only a 1 when it hit) left debris all over for months.
I wrote on that anti-gouging law (the Florida version) here. What a bunch of dipshits.
BTW, I should have mentioned that Black Swan events was the subject of your very first Maggie's post. If anyone's interested, it's here.
Anyone know the Muslim position on nuclear energy (other than bombs)?
Pakistan has a handful of nuclear power plants, so I gather there's nothing particularly 'religious' about it.
I will not argue the point that Germans are the fools of the decade. Germans are fools for many other reasons, but not in this special case of nuclear plants being shut down for fear of tsunamis.
The anti-nuclear movement has and is strong in Germany. And, you probably will not believe it, but it is a fact that Germans are not afraid of earthquakes nor tsunamis taking place in Germany.
The debate is about nuclear power, nuclear waste, security, etc.
During the time in question Germany had elections in the state of Baden-Württemberg. This state has quite some nuclear plants and the leading party lost, among others for enviromental reasons. Quickly, our federal government bent over and passed some laws to shut down some plants.
In short, German nuclear plants have expiration dates due to security, renovation, etc. Those plants shut down were simply due to this fact.
Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, we still have nuclear plants providing power and yes, we buy nuclear power from France and other country.
Dagmar, not in favor of nuclear power
Dagmar, not in favor of nuclear power.
I trust you have also been a vociferous opponent of German companies selling tunneling equipment to Iran, enabling Iran to put its nuclear facilities far underground. I trust you also are realistic about Iran's reason for increasing its nuclear capacity. Hint: it ain't about megawatts.
About being vociferous, no luck and no success, pepperspray and waterguns. Money (capital) is more vociferous.
About megawatts, understand and agree, but remember, not in favor of nuclear power.
What did you expect? These are the folks who thought invading Russia, while fighting everyone else in the world, was a good idea.
Germans are smart, but they make too many emotional based decisions.
The Russians beat our ass. Read about World War II.
Are Germans smart? I wonder.
Today we collectively seem to be building our own "Towers of Babel" so it can control our destinies and keep "bad" things from happening. The more we try to completely put our destiny in our own hands so nothing bad happens, the more we'll waste effort and resources on futile attempts to control the uncontrollable. We want to be our own "Gods" in complete control of our destiny, and we fail to realize we're not in charge.
Can we influence our destiny? Certainly, but it has to be grounded in reality. We can fly, in apparent defiance of gravity, but, at times, despite our best efforts, we fall with disastrous results.
We're not reasonable in our expectations that with the right engineering, rules, laws, and we can stop all bad things from happening. We've lost our way (in this case, the Germans...in our unsustainable budgets and our nanny state laws, us Americans) and can't accept realistically the world we live in, where, despite our best efforts bad things happen to good people. God runs the universe, not us.
I lived in Germany and worked with Germans for years. They are as a rule smart, mechanically inclined, clever, hard working, confident, a little full of themselves but often correctly so.
I read a bit about the German decision to shut down all their nuclear power plants and in subsequent articles the increased development of new power plants, including nuclear, in nations on its borders to replace the lost electrical energy.
This week the Japanese government caved to the public pressure and will also shut down all nuclear plants in Japan.
My question is, which other countries are conveniently located on Japan's borders and able to pump replacement power to replace the vast amounts of energy being shut off?
"This week the Japanese government caved to the public pressure and will also shut down all nuclear plants in Japan."
You got a link to go along with that? All I can find on Google are articles about shutting down the reactors after the tsunami and on the one that fired back up a few weeks ago.
Other side of WSJ paywall...
crux of issue...
The government is expected to announce a final decision in September, ahead of general elections for parliament expected by the end of the year.
While it had been widely expected to choose the middle option, government officials said Tuesday that the council is now most likely to select the zero-nuclear option. "Zero nuclear is our hope and goal," one of the officials said. "We are moving toward it, and I don't think others will be aggressively against it."
Another story went into more on the full shut-down and why it is going to happen. Trying to find where I read that one, sometimes I think I read to much.
Thanks for the (semi) link. It says "is likely to decide", so it's not a done deal yet. Still, pretty stupid of them.
Meanwhile China is building fifty new reactors, many of them thorium, what does that tell you?
Unfortunately, after the collapse of another highway in China, I'm thinking that this is one instance that I wouldn't mind seeing some American tech transfer to China. Sort of like when Ronny Reagan offered the Soviets our technology for nuclear missile command and control.