My deleted response to Pirate Wires' Nuclear Disasters
I wrote a long comment to a recent post of Mike Solana titled "Nuclear
Disasters." To my surprise
Mike deleted it promptly with the following message:
this wasn't framed as breaking news, fukushima was 12 years ago. i should
probably delete your comment because you're not a subscriber and i'm already
annoyed, but it's a perfect german take. 7 graphs into your 15 paragraph
essay you admit this was the wrong decision, then explain in meticulous
detail why renewables are inferior. you say you're tired of your country
being critiqued for stupidly accepting dependence on russia, but provide no
defense. how can one write so exhaustively and yet convey almost nothing?
enjoy your cope. sadly, it won't warm your homes.
So here's my now-deleted
Disappointed by this article, Mike. I'm one of those German idiots that I guess
is responsible for letting our government pass this move. But, honestly,
reading your post and reading the replies to the BREAKING NEWS announcement
that Germany is shutting down nuclear, my impression is that the midwit take
today is: "Oh look how stupid Germany is, let them get rekt," accompanied with
the famous Trump UN speech clip. In discussions on social media, I seemed to
have been in the minority regarding a more nuanced take on German nuclear.
Here, and this is sadly not well understood by the English-speaking world, a
dialogue that is post-safety has been ongoing for many years, and our arguments
are more nuanced than what US social media picks up on. Honestly, at this
point, I'm convinced that nuclear safety is a misguided strawman.
On a slight tangent, I find the American critique of Germany's appeasement of
Russia through trade weird, as "Wandel durch Handel" is probably as much of an
American idea. And sure, it was a failure, but so is the US's strategy of
appeasing China through trade, right?
Anyways, few reasons that have nothing to do with spirituality, religion or
stupidity, why Germany+Nuclear in 2023 is tricky:
- If Germany were to reboot nuclear, there would be a concern about fuel supply
and geopolitics. It's unclear if the EU or Germany has Nuclear fuel depots.
Everyone's argument is that Germany was dependent on Russian gas. It'd be a
shame if we became addicted to Kazakstan's Uranium, right? Coal is available
- Nuclear is a base load technology. It increases the grid voltage by +x%. But
Germany has heavily invested in renewables which have a fluctuating supply.
Nuclear plants can't be shut down instantly (in contrast to coal, gas,
biomass, hydro, and oil), and so it is unclear what we'd supposed to do with
an oversupply of electricity.
- Germany has gotten out of nuclear since 2002 (which probably was a mistake).
But people fail to recognize that we have to deal with the situation at hand
today. We have a large renewable energy production (up to 40% of all
electricity). After ROI, that's free power(!), so we have also meaningfully
divested from nuclear.
- The midwit's take on Nuclear is: "Oh Germany so fucking stupid, they should
just re-build the sites." But that fails to acknowledge that we're looking
for ways to make renewables work sustainably for our grid. Besides, for
anyone suggesting that Nuclear is the short-term fix for climate change: Do
you know how long it'd take to re-build nuclear in Germany? How is this a
- And then, with renewables, there is the bearish issue of having to backstop
the entire country's renewable production with instantly spinupable
alternative power sources (gas, coal, oil, hydro).
- E.g., there is data from 2019 that suggests renewables produced zero percent
of the electricity in Germany for some days when the sun didn't shine, and no
wind was blowing. But note how nuclear is here is not helpful as it only
increases base load steadily. You can't spontaneously spin up a nuclear
plant. There are people researching it, but it isn't state-of-the-art
possible at the moment.
- I personally also think it is awesome that while the entire world invests in
nuclear (as somewhat of a "silver bullet against climate change (what you
said)"), there's a country that's going the heretic way. Look, France had to
shut down their Nuclear plants in the hot summer of 2022 because the heat
wave made the river's water levels unsustainable for cooling. Even
discounting the safety concern here, a melting-down nuclear power plant
doesn't produce energy either.
- Do I think safety with nuclear is an issue? It's probably OK, but I'm not an
expert. Do I think a clean-slate Germany should have doubled down on nuclear?
Maybe, but that, to me, is an annoyingly theoretical position. Yes, it is
painful dealing with the renewables bet, but this is where we are today.
- However, I think there is also an opportunity here. Having Germany double
down on renewable technologies is interesting. If renewables and accompanying
technology are being researched and built out here, even if that means
offsetting it with a little coal for now, I think long-term that can be a
I wish more people would understand this.
published by timdaub on 2023-04-18