Timon Singh

Germany To Construct 2,800 Miles Of Transmission Lines as it Abandons Nuclear Power for Renewable Energy

by , 08/04/11
filed under: Renewable Energy

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Germany has decided to turn its back on nuclear energy following Japan’s recent disaster, but what will the nation do now? As part of the country’s new national energy plan, it will be building more than 2,800 miles of new high-voltage transmission lines in order to double its current renewable energy target of 35 percent by 2020. The new transmission lines will carry wind power from existing wind farms all over the nation to the county’s industrial areas and population centres. Germany is also proposing several new wind farms in the North Sea and plans to tap Norway’s abundant reserves of hydropower.

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As Germany faces life without nuclear power, the German government faces a whole host of challenges in order to properly distribute renewable energy. This includes upgrading grid technology, mustering investments, installing 200-foot-tall transmission towers that could potentially ruin the landscape of picturesque villages and vineyards.

The construction of these new transmission networks is key, however there is the potential for a lot of internal political wrangling and rising costs. “The grid cannot become the bottleneck of the energy shift,” said Stephan Kohler, president of the German Energy Agency, or Deutsche Energie-Agentur GmbH. “Wind and solar power won’t do any good if we can’t transmit it to where it will be used or stored.”

However the goal could be worth the cost, as Germany’s new renewable energy plan aims to reach 80 percent by 2050.

+ Deutsche Energie-Agentur GmbH

Via New York Times

Images © Ian Muttoo, Jasmic, Wikimedia Commons

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5 Comments

  1. chris offspring August 10, 2011 at 8:02 am

    @Zeppflyer
    the main difference being? If we use all our nuclear material, we have to deal with the waste. Using the nuclear power of france means what? Exactly! No waste. At least non the germans have to worry about.

    And yes, we can’t cover all our electrical needs with solar and/or wind energy. Coal will be one of the main ingredients of the mix until it runs out. We have the big holes in the ground they mine coal from, so why not use them? You wouldn’t abandon your still functional yet maybe 5 years old car for a brand new one because it produces less CO2. (And you can still upgrade parts of the car to make it more efficient….same with power plants running on coal)

    And there are a lot of different kinds of energy we still are not using to their full potential. Water energy isn’t one of them. But my state for instance just lifted a restriction that forbid windmills to be higher than 100 meters. So those things will get more efficient by getting bigger without the need of new sites to build them on.
    Solar energy is getting more efficient too and there are still a lot of roofs i don’t see it on.

    Cogeneration is another new thing that could become a big hit. We are using a lot of russian gas to heat our homes yet it’s efficiency is somewhere between 10% – 30% (mainly depending on the time of the year and the times when we need to heat). Cogeneration enables us to get 60% – 90% (heat and electricity combined) out of the same amount of gas. So we can lower the demand for coal (or at least keep it steady) while no new power plant needs to be constructed.
    Another aspect of cogeneration is it’s high efficiency in small sized “plants” that replace your old central heating. If the sun suddenly stops to shine and no wind blows they can jump in within a minute and produce electricity until sun and wind come back. The excess heat is stored in a reservoir so you can still have a hot shower (or heat your home when it’s cold outside).

    I won’t say anything about the high prices electricity will reach in a few years, but we won’t become totally dependent on other countries nuclear energy.

  2. zeppflyer August 5, 2011 at 9:00 am

    @Mysin,
    Unfortunately, Germany doesn’t have that many options for dispersed renewables. It’s hydro has been pretty much tapped since the 30′s. Frequent overcast reduces the utility of solar, and if you’ll look at this map:
    http://www.europeanunionmaps.com/western-europe-wind-map/

    you can see that most of Germany is only moderately well suited for wind production, except along the North Sea. The power has to be moved. So yes, it would be nice, but not too feasible.

  3. caeman August 5, 2011 at 8:35 am

    What a hideous future for Germany’s landscape. Have they considered the potential health risks of ever more open-air power lines on birds, people and electronics?

  4. Zeppflyer August 4, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    Germany’s quick abandonment of nuclear power was largely meaningless as, by doing so, they switched from a net exporter to a net importer of electricity. And where does most of the difference come from? France. Which gets 3/4 of its energy from the atom. It also put more reliance on the country’s coal plants which are largely powered by strip mined brown coal. A move towards other sustainable power is all well and good, but the abrupt abandonment of nukes was not the way to go about it, especially since the dangers of Fukushima are completely absent. Have you ever heard of an earthquake shaking Berlin or a tsumani inundating Bavaria?

  5. msyin August 4, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    While I am glad Germany has decided to move beyond nuclear energy it has shown that it won’t be easy or pretty!

    Would it not be feasible to have each location harness, create and distribute their power by it being locally produced and used so that the landscape is not sacrificed by power lines that will have to cross great distance to provided energy in diverse places. There is enough tech today and plenty of proven solutions to augment in part the demise of nuclear.

    Either way, it is a small price to pay considering why this change has come about.

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