The aftermath of the Fukishima disaster saw concerned citizens worldwide protesting the increase in the use of nuclear power. German citizens were particularly vocal in their criticism, and it looks like it may have had an effect. According to recent reports, the German government has decided to ‘re-examine’ the country’s 17 nuclear reactors, with Chancellor Merkel even stating that she intends on doing away with them. Even more intriguing are the country’s plans to replace the nuclear stations with wind farms.
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Germany has always been a leader in renewable energy, but if they want to replace nuclear power with something less damaging, then they will have to embrace wind power. A study from industry group Bundesverband WindEnergie suggests that the country will have to give 2% of the its land mass to wind farms in order to substitue nuclear power. By using 2% of Germany’s landmass, the country would be able to provide as much as 65% of the demand for electricity in the country. If they wanted to increase this, they could always construct additional offshore wind farms, which are proven to be more reliable than land-based ones.
Speaking at a press conference, BEW President Hermann Albers said that more than 22% of Germany’s land is, technically, suitable for onshore wind power generation, although when protected areas such as woodlands and sanctuaries are taken into account, the number quickly falls to around 8%.
Albers added that full utilization of Germany’s onshore wind power potential could result in installed wind turbine capacity of 198 gigawatts, which could produce around 390 terawatt-hours. By comparison, Germany’s nuclear industry produced 140 terawatt hours in 2010. At the end of 2010, Germany’s wind power capacity was only 27 gigawatts – however that is expected to improve.
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