Don’t Hold Your Breath, Tokyo

Two years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan is making a big push to win back German tourists, who are still avoiding the country because of concerns over radiation.  Visitor numbers from Germany, the world’s biggest spenders on foreign holidays in 2011, fell 35 percent between 2010 and 2011, and in 2012 did not recover as much as other markets, officials said in Frankfurt on Thursday.

Tokyo

It’s like this, folks: The level of radiation occurring naturally in Japan is much lower than that of Germany. The levels of naturally occurring radiation PLUS the radiation resulting from the accident at Fukushima are still within the range considered average for Germany.

None of this matters, of course. Hysteria bleibt (stays) hysteria.

Even at the dentist, Germans are often skeptical about the effects of x-rays and require reassurance over radiation levels.

PS: Speaking of hypochondria (sort of), Berliner Beamte (civil servants with disgustingly cushy benefits), police mostly, are off sick two months a year – on average.

No Contradiction Here

Just move along, folks. Nothing to look at here.

Loans

While German dedication to saving the German environment by ridding the country of nuclear power is in full swing (sort of), the German government has absolutely no problem using public money to guarantee the construction of nuclear power plants in other countries at the same time.

It’s not a contradiction really, though. Honest. Environment Minister Peter Almaier’s current ministry slogan is “high time that something changed” and they are even trying to set up an international club of countries who have done/will do away with nuclear energy. And that’s the main thing. So something has changed, sort of. The countries Germany is helping to build atomic energy programs for just won’t be allowed to join their club, that’s all.

“It is a gross contradiction, that we are pushing forwards with the change in energy generation while supporting atomic energy abroad.”  

Who Needs Sandy?

Thanks to this dad gern new-fangled Energiewende (energy turnaround), the power goes out in Germany “mit ohne” (without) a damned hurricane these days.

Es ist 16:32 Uhr, für die meisten ist der Feierabend nicht mehr weit. Da zuckt in den Büros kurz das Licht. Im Stadtteil Griesheim gehen die Lampen sogar ganz aus. Zeitumstellung. Es ist dunkel. Rund um die Innenstadt bricht mitten in der Rush Hour der Verkehr zusammen. Die Ampeln tun – zumindest nördlich des Mains – ihren Dienst nicht mehr. S- und Straßenbahnen bleiben auf offener Strecke stehen. In den U-Bahnen geht die Notbeleuchtung an.

Big Sister Assures Germans That 47-Percent Price Hike Actually Not Such A Bad Thing If You Think About It

Not.

Worried about grassroots unrest after Germany’s electrical grid operators announced they were nearly doubling the charge consumers will pay to finance subsidies for renewable energy as Germany phases out nuclear power, Big Sister herself has reacted boldly and decisively by going into hiding and pretending as if none of this were really happening.

Long used to this tactic, worried German consumers were assured, sort of, as they will now be paying an additional 60 euros per year, “taking overall add-on power taxes up to about 185 euros.” But that’s just the start, of course.

Sheesh. Why do Germans see everthing energy turnaround-related so negatively these days? You know, like as in black? Or like as in blackouts, I should say?

“The costs for consumers and industry of the electricity price charge for renewable energy has risen to an unbearable degree.”

Grid Your Teeth

And just keep on paying. Or how about grid and bare it?

Germany’s power grid hasn’t kept up with the explosion of new alternative energy sources — particularly the offshore windparks being built in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea off the country’s north coast. Many of those projects are at a standstill, with no way to deliver the power they generate to the mainland.

On Wednesday Merkel’s cabinet hopes to agree on a stop-gap measure to compensate power companies for losses accrued as a result of the delays, but again it will be German consumers who will ultimately suffer.

“The primary reason for the problem lies in the ‘third path’ policymakers have chosen to lead us into the renewable future. There is neither a centrally planned economy to steer the energy system nor are the rules of the market economy allowed to regulate the system according to the laws of supply and demand. Instead, a model of ‘decentralized planned economy’ is being pursued. Municipalities, states, the federal government and the European Union are all creating plans independent of each other and of those affected. There is no coordination…. The result is a fair amount of chaos with policymakers struggling to keep up. Everyone is aware that the situation cannot continue if the renewable energy revolution is to be a success. As such, the question is whether we want to move from where we are today in the direction of a centrally planned economic model or rather in the direction of market economy principles.”

The 30 Percent Solution

That’s how much more German households will likely have to pay for energy in the coming years due to the country’s way cool “energy turnaround.”

Investments of at least 150 billion euros will be needed in the next few years and that’s just the beginning and absolutely positively nothing is working out reibungslos (smoothly) as not planned. And that’s the crux of the biscuit: This is what happens when you do your panicked decision making first and your planning later.

“Wir müssen davon ausgehen, dass die Gestaltung der Energiewende länger dauert als geplant.”

No One Can Explain German Power Grid Instability

But as far as I can tell, it seems to have begun sometime shortly after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

Sudden fluctuations in Germany’s power grid are causing major damage to a number of industrial companies. While many of them have responded by getting their own power generators and regulators to help minimize the risks, they warn that companies might be forced to leave if the government doesn’t deal with the issues fast…

The problem is that wind and solar farms just don’t deliver the same amount of continuous electricity compared with nuclear and gas-fired power plants. To match traditional energy sources, grid operators must be able to exactly predict how strong the wind will blow or the sun will shine.

“Every company — from small businesses to companies listed on the DAX — are buying one (APC emergency power generators) from us.” 

World’s Largest Brown Coal Power Plant Inaugurated In Germany To Help Save Environment

This German energy turnaround stuff can get really complicated, I find.

But as far as I can tell, dirty energy is clean energy here, too. As long as it’s German-made, that is.

“Dieser Neubau ist ein herausragender Beitrag zum Gelingen der Energiewende.” 

Biomass Movement Is Over (If You Want It)

Remember the days when crops were something people would eat?

Well the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina has just found out that that maybe wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

The German mania for “bioenergy” seems to have already had its day in the solar-powered sun. The academy’s report “Bioenergy – Chances and Limits” concludes that bioenergy is just a lot of bio gas (or hot bio air, if you prefer).

It plays “a minor role in the transition to renewable, sustainable energy sources in Germany at the present time and probably in the future,” requiring more surface area, creating higher greenhouse gas emissions and being more harmful to the environment than other renewable sources.

So what are we going to do with all those imported soybeans now? Eat them? Hey, the plan looked good on green paper, though.

“Die Produktion von Biokraftstoffen stellte eine extrem ineffiziente Nutzung der verfügbaren landwirtschaftlichen Fläche dar.”

What’s 20 (30? 40?) Billion Euros These Days?

It’s peanuts, man. Renewable peanuts.

Damn. This gives power madness a whole new meaning.

Germany mapped out a 20 billion euro ($25 billion) plan on Tuesday to expand its power grid and avoid a “power gap” as Europe’s largest economy switches away from nuclear to renewable energy.

Germany’s government, the federal energy network regulator and transmission grid firms unveiled joint plans for thousands of kilometres of new electricity lines to 2022, to help distribute volatile renewable energy.

Operators say some 3,800 kilometers of new power lines needed through 2022.

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