[ RadSafe ] RadSafe Digest, Vol 644, Issue 2

Peter Miller z3ix at kamprint.com
Mon May 30 17:30:35 CDT 2011

Dear RadSafers,

> How will Germany replace the 22 percent of electricity it receives from reactors?

We have a similar dilemma here in Japan, where 10 megawatts of nuclear power
were taken out by tsunami, and more shut down as a precaution. In Japan,
electricity was rationed with planned outages during March, the last of the
heating season, and will be rationed again as the summer air-conditioning season
kicks in. Japanese industry and consumers have accepted these cutbacks. While 
costly at first, widespread adoption of energy-saving measures -- such as 
turning off unnecessary outdoor, station, and office lighting, industrial energy 
conservation, etc. -- have reduced normal baseload electricity demand. I don't 
know by how much, but a ten percent reduction should be possible without 
hardship. Additional savings in the overall energy budget (including the 
transport sector) could be achieved with electric cars, charging them at night 
to stay within peak-demand electrical generating capacity.

Government subsidies to solar and wind sources of energy are indeed troublesome,
as are all enforced taxpayer contributions to the oil, coal, and nuclear
industries. This is not a question of fairness, as the Greens would have it.
Rather it is about delivering reliable energy at the least cost. The costs
include not only the metered rates, but also the costs of dealing with
accidents, cleanup, and waste disposal. The inclusion of these 'externalities'
here in Japan will bankrupt Tokyo Electric and will force substantial tax
increases. Likewise, oil cost is not limited to dollars per barrel, but must
also include the consequences of financing terrorists or geopolitical rivals. In
Germany's case, as someone mentioned,

> The sad truth is that the energy will come to Germany in the form of Russian
> natural gas controlled by Gasprom.  

Under all the above circumstances, it is not unreasonable for every nation to
seek alternatives for some portion of its national energy demand, as a matter of
national security. Whether that percentage is 10 percent, 22 percent, or some
other number, is a legitimate matter for rational debate which includes a
realistic review of all the relevant costs.

-- Peter Miller, Ph D (sociology)
    Kamakura, Japan

PS  I recognize this is somewhat (but not entirely) tangential to the main topic 
of radiation health and safety, and do not wish to divert the discussion too 
much. 'What is opinion but knowledge in the making?'

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