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Arne Jungjohann's Posts

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Which countries fail the most at climate leadership?

Sweden, the U.K., and Germany: The European trio leads the world in fighting climate change. That's the finding of the most recent Climate Change Performance Index [PDF], which was released yesterday at COP 17 in Durban. But Swedes, Brits, and Germans shouldn't cheer just yet; even their countries are not contributing their fair share. In fact, that is the most worrying result of the index: No country is doing enough to seriously fight climate change. Consequently, the report -- published by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe -- did not reward any country a ranking of 1-3. The countries ranked …

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Germany’s nuclear phaseout was the right thing to do

Photo: Dan ZelazoEver since Germany shut down eight of its nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, nuclear proponents have raged against the decision. Their claim: This cannot possibly be good for the German economy, its energy security, or the climate. The latest example of this rage is a piece in The New Republic: "How Germany Phased Out Nuclear Power, Only to Get Mugged by Reality." Before digging deeper into the arguments, let's figure out just what reality we're talking about. As I've written before, Germany, Europe's biggest economy, is aggressively pursuing a transition away from both …

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Germany's phaseout reveals the true costs of nuclear power

This is bad news for nuclear advocates: Nuclear power turns out even more expensive than we thought. According to a study by Arthur D. Little, the four German nuclear utilities (E.ON, RWE, EnBW, Vattenfall) face costs of at least $25 billion for decommissioning their reactors. After the Fukushima disaster, Germany decided to say goodbye to nuclear by switching off eight reactors immediately while the remaining nine are scheduled for a gradual phaseout by 2022. Of the many myths about nuclear power, we kinda knew that the myth "nuclear power is cheap" is not true. The stunner is how expensive it …

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The small-town energy revolution

Until recently, the idea of powering a local economy with 100 percent renewable energy seemed unrealistic. That has changed: there's a small town energy revolution underway. Take Juehnde, a village in the German state of Lower Saxony: it reached total self-supply by 2006 with biogas and wood chip heating. It now attracts visitors from around the world (e.g. from Thailand). Eric Burch, of Indiana's Office of Energy and Defense, visited and summarized what he saw like this: With nearly 750 residents, Juehnde is the first village in Germany to produce its complete heat and electricity supply from bioenergy ... The …

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Germany sets renewables record

Solar photovoltaics drove Germany's recent renewables surge.Photo: Cornelia KoppGermany set another record with renewable energy. A new report by the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) highlights, in the first half of 2011, renewables accounted for fully 20.8 percent of power production, as Der Spiegel reports. Throughout the past decade, Germany has fundamentally transformed the way it produces electricity. The country increased its share of renewable electricity from 5 percent in 2000 to 18 percent in 2010. Over time, Germany has consistently met its legislated targets ahead of schedule, and appears poised to outdo itself again in the …

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Germany says auf wiedersehen to nuclear power

Nuclear power? Nein, danke!Photo: Dan ZelazoCross-posted from The Hill. Germany's plans to phase out nuclear power seemed to catch many around the world by surprise and create a fair amount of skepticism. Some painted it as a "panicked overreaction" to the nuclear meltdown in Japan, and even as "environmental vandalism." One can argue that Germans are more risk-averse than other cultures. The Chernobyl accident in 1986 resulted in a radioactive cloud hanging over large parts of Europe for several weeks. It was a smart precaution to stay out of the rain and skip eating vegetables to avoid contamination. After experiencing …

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Is pro-nuke enthusiasm in the U.S. waning?

This is the fourth and final post in a series on the United States and nuclear power. Read parts one, two, and three. Fukushima gave many Americans a sense of déjà vu: In 1979, a threatened explosion at Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Pennsylvania caused by venting an explosive gas mixture was just barely warded off. Faulty design and human error were to blame. Since then, no new nuclear power plants have been built in the United States (though some that were already under construction were completed). But the industry has soldiered on, trying to present the public …

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States fight back against nuclear power, even as the feds remain in its thrall

This is part three in a series on the United States and nuclear power. Read parts one, two, and four. Although Democrats and Republicans in Congress feed at the nuclear industry's trough in equal measure, Republicans in particular have been trying hard for years to bring about a renaissance of nuclear power in the United States. If they had their druthers, 100 new nuke plants would be built during the next two decades -- on top of the 104 reactors already operating. The Republicans' battle cry is "all of the above" -- a strategy that supposedly leaves out no energy option. …

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The nuclear industry has powerful backers and weak opponents in D.C.

This is part two in a series on the United States and nuclear power. Read parts one, three, and four. The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) is the lobby association for the entire process chain of the nuclear industry in the U.S., from uranium mining to the manufacture of the reactors and the supply of nuclear fuel, all the way to nuclear power production. Its lobbyists are well-connected in the Obama administration and on Capitol Hill. In the last midterm and off-year election campaign cycle, politicians of both parties received approximately $4 million from the NEI. In order to boost public …

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Why is the United States so obsessed with nuclear power?

Why aren't Americans more freaked out about the possibility of a nuclear accident? Photo: MikeThis is part one in a series on the United States and nuclear power. Read parts two, three, and four. After the nuclear catastrophe of Fukushima, as a German living in the U.S., I often get asked these days: What's going on in Germany with the shutdown of nuclear power plants -- is that all mass hysteria? There are good reasons why Germany is moving away so quickly from nuclear power. Certainly, fear is a factor. However, this angst in the face of a nuclear catastrophe …