Lessons Learned | Germany’s Nuclear Energy Abdication

Nuclear Energy Lessons Learned from Germany In this American landscape where the word nuclear has been sandbagged and vilified, we would do well to observe the effect Atomausstieg or “nuclear phase-out” has had on Germany’s energy outlook. Reeling from Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011, German Chancellor Angela Merkel began what has become known as the Energiewende—Germany’s “energy revolution”, a comprehensive plan to remake the country’s energy portfolio (largely by eliminating nuclear and fossil fuels) by the end of 2038. At the plan’s outset, a goal of a 40% reduction in carbon emissions was established for the year 2020—while it’s safe to say that the goal will not bet met, the long-range aspirations of the Energiewende appear doomed to a similar fate.

A simple case and point can be found in empirical fact—despite a governmental push for climate-friendly alternatives such as electric cars and force-fed renewables (where vast and cumbersome wind farms have been met with push back from local residents who claim the multi-acre “wind parks” intrude on neighborhoods and communities) the country’s power consumption has actually risen 10% since 1990. Couple this with the estimated 3,700 miles of electrical power lines needed to move the massive amounts of electricity required to fund the Energiewende (with a mere 93 miles built by 2018) and it’s abundantly clear Germany’s obsessive plans to remove themselves from nuclear energy has been riddled full of holes.

In an article for the New York Times, opinion writer Jochen Bittner equates the country’s impulsive and all-consuming sprint away from nuclear to the prevailing psychology of the German people themselves—namely inherent fear of any action attached to risk. “It is the very German trait of freezing when faced with a dilemma. For a nation that is as keen as ours to do what would undoubtedly be considered good, choosing between two evils — here, nuclear power and climate change — is a nearly insurmountable task”, Mr. Bittner writes, later adding, “The tragedy about Germany’s energy experiment is that the country’s almost religious antinuclear attitude doesn’t leave room for advances in technology.

Certainly, the overwhelming plethora of research from scientific communities all around the world has shown that any attempt or plan to combat climate change as it stands now, cannot be successfully achieved without nuclear energy. With Germany steadfastly refusing to engage in nuclear power, not only are they unwittingly going to rely more on fossil fuels in the short term, but they risk losing access to valuable and ever-evolving technology that might prove to be mankind’s best chance at changing the course of our climate future.

As a dedicated and continuous proponent of technology, OTEK has long kept an eye on the global nuclear industry and has designed specific products to meet the landscape’s ever-changing shape. Our Solid-State Analog Meter, or SSAM, was created specifically with cybersecurity in mind. Built without any critical digital components such as microprocessors, the SSAM operates of good old-fashioned CMOS logic that we married with our award-winning technology to create a meter that is both safe and smart for nuclear I&C room applications—in both safety-related and commercial grades.

In addition to being exempt from Cyber Security concerns, the SSAM also features signal and external power options (4-20mA current loops, V/A AC/DC, Watts & Hertz signal options), OTEK’s patented signal failure alarm that notifies an operator in the event of a signal or power loss over a minute long, a 4 ½ digit 0.6” LED display at 0.1% accuracy, optional isolated H.V>SPDT alarms for enunciator panel lamps and 4-20mA outputs, and our unique “One Size Fits All” scale plate design which allows for unlimited custom color displays that are as easy to interchange as removing the scale plate and sliding in another. Like all our products, the SSAM is backed by the OTEK Lifetime Warranty.

If the global community is indeed serious about reversing the dire effects of climate change, we should heed the lessons from Germany’s abdication from nuclear energy – one of our most important tools in the battle for the future health of our planet.

For more information on the SSAM, OTEK’s effort to help the nuclear industry, or any of our other award-winning and obsolescence-hardened products, please call 520-748-7900 or contact our sales department: sales@otekcorp.com.

The political opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily match OTEK’s beliefs.