Swiss protest nuclear power

May 23, 2011
A demonstrator attends a protest in Dottingen, northern Switzerland against nuclear power ahead of a government decision on the future of atomic energy in the country. About 20,000 people took part in the demonstration, including protesters from Germany, Austria and France.

About 20,000 people took part in an anti-nuclear demonstration in north Switzerland on Sunday ahead of a government decision on the future of atomic energy in the country.

"At least 20,000" protesters joined the march near the town of Doettingen and the Beznau , Switzerland's oldest, police and organisers said.

"It's the biggest demonstration in Switzerland against nuclear power since the Fukushima accident (in Japan)," spokeswoman for "Sortons du nuclaire" Maude Poirier told AFP. "These thousands of people who have come are sending a strong signal to the Swiss authorities.

"This shows that we are not a minority, that it's not only the Greens" calling for an end to nuclear power, she said.

The group said protesters had also come from Germany, Austria and France.

During the march, demonstrators held banners with slogans like: "No thanks to nuclear."

The Swiss government is set to decide Wednesday whether to mothball the country's five nuclear power plants.

After the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan triggered the world's worst since 25 years ago, Switzerland was the first country on March 14 to suspend plans to replace its ageing nuclear power plants.

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plasticpower
5 / 5 (2) May 23, 2011
Easy to do when your country's population size is less than half that of New York City. Not so easy when you need to power millions of people's homes across 6 time zones with something cleaner than fossil fuels.
Eikka
3.1 / 5 (7) May 23, 2011
I support your decision to reject nuclear power as long as you accept the responsibility for the consequences, which include millions of people dead due to pulmonary diseases that result from the increased particulate emissions from coal and biomass burning, and increased land use for biomass production, wind farms, solar farms and hydro power where the rivers aren't already ruined.

As a short term personal solution, I'll be buying a bigger UPS.

Any safety issues to nuclear power could be solved with enough effort. Irrational fear on the other hand can not be solved by any effort, because it doesn't respond to reason.
antialias
5 / 5 (1) May 23, 2011
and increased land use for biomass production, wind farms, solar farms and hydro power where the rivers aren't already ruined.

We are talking about switzerland here. They have abundant mountainous/rocky areas which are not usable for agriculture which could go to windfarms and solar. They have many streams which are already being used for hydro. And with the crop rotation system there is really no reason why some sort of biomass should NOT be grown in the interval where the fields are legally obliged not to be used for food production.

Switzerland has also only narrowly escaped their own niclear accident in 1969 (Lucens). It's also small enough that one major catastrophe could contaminate a large part of the country. Not at all surprising that they are against the further pursuit of nuclear power.
Eikka
not rated yet May 23, 2011
So why are they still using it?
lurch
5 / 5 (2) May 23, 2011
Any safety issues to (Insert any type of power generation here) could be solved with enough effort. Irrational fear on the other hand can not be solved by any effort, because it doesn't respond to reason.
antialias
2 / 5 (4) May 23, 2011
So why are they still using it?

Same reason any other country is still using it: Nuclear has a big lobby. A few people are making a lot of money and governments are in bed with big business.

Alternative energy sources are something the people want. But politicians rarely (if ever) care about that.
wwqq
5 / 5 (3) May 23, 2011
About 20 000 idiots took part in a pro-coal demonstration.
wwqq
5 / 5 (2) May 23, 2011
Alternative energy sources are something the people want. But politicians rarely (if ever) care about that.


Germany has committed to paying 60-78 billion dollars in feed-in-tariff for the 8 877 MW cumulative solar capacity installed up to 2009.

The fleet average capacity factor of PV in Germany is ~11%. Those 8.9 GW of solar will on average provide ~1 GW of power; about the same as a single medium sized coal or nuclear reactor.

Germany, incidentally, has 26 brand spanking new coal plants planned to replace the nuclear plants; signifying their level of confidence in renewables. Their current fleet of coal plants is producing 60 000 particulate deaths per year; a coal-chernobyl every 5 weeks.
wwqq
5 / 5 (2) May 23, 2011
And with the crop rotation system there is really no reason why some sort of biomass should NOT be grown in the interval where the fields are legally obliged not to be used for food production.


The excuse for that legal obligation is probably the same as it is everywhere else: soil errosion.

So no, they can't grow energy crops there without being massive hypocrites.

Switzerland has also only narrowly escaped their own niclear accident in 1969 (Lucens).


On the other hand, they avoided a few hundred coal-chernobyls.
antialias
not rated yet May 23, 2011
Germany has committed to paying 60-78 billion dollars in feed-in-tariff for the 8 877 MW cumulative solar capacity installed up to 2009.

You mean as opposed to the 184bn Euros subsidies the nuclear plants have been getting?

Germany is already getting 17% of its electricity from alternative power sources (22% from nuclear which is lower now because about 1/3 of all plants are offline and more will go offline in the near future).

You make it seem like an anti-nuclear choice is a pro-coal choice. Not so. Both will eventually be replaced by alternative power plants and a few high efficiency gas plants to take up some slack.

On the other hand, they avoided a few hundred coal-chernobyls.
And what is a 'coal chernobyl'? I've never heard of coal power plants making land unusable for hundreds of years at a time. Nor of one blowing up and forcing evacuations. Care to cite a source?
wwqq
5 / 5 (2) May 23, 2011
It takes significant creative accounting to get to 184 billion euros.

All energy gets subsidies. Nuclear power produces meaningful amounts of power in Germany; PV doesn'nt.

You make it seem like an anti-nuclear choice is a pro-coal choice.


Because it is.

Both will eventually be replaced by alternative power plants [...]gas plants[...].


It is too expensive to overbuild renewables, build continent wide webs of HVDC that shuffle power from anywhere to anywhere, store ridiculous quantities of energy(solar in Germany provides ~5 times more energy in summer than in the winter when it needed the most). I don't believe gas can be extracted at rates sufficient to provide the bulk of power production in Europe, nor do I care to be hopelessly reliant on Gazprom.

Gas is just a slightly less dangerous fossil fuel. With fracking it has no GHG advantage over coal.
wwqq
5 / 5 (2) May 23, 2011
And what is a 'coal chernobyl'?


Same number of deaths as is projected for chernobyl using the LNT model by the chernobyl forum.

Nor of one blowing up and forcing evacuations.


They're in continous and catastrophic failure mode whenever they operate. They make neither the effort to capture fine particulate matter or evacuate people down-wind.

If you want to be callous; the EU uses a statistical value of a human life of 1 million in most environmental regulation, making the 60 000/year coal particulate deaths in Germany a 60 billion per year subsidy to coal.

Jury is still out on the cost of global warming; but we do know with a reasonable level of certainty that water distribution will be radically different, necessitating an enormous displacement of people. Cities can probably hang in there at some cost, but agriculture must go where the water is.
kaasinees
2.3 / 5 (3) May 23, 2011
About 20 000 idiots took part in a pro-coal demonstration.

anti-nuclear does NOT mean pro-coal.

idiot.
Beard
not rated yet May 24, 2011
If 20,000 Christians protested gay marriage because of their scriptures, would that constitute a rational argument against allowing gay marriage?

Irrational people should be ignored even if they number in the millions. Unbiased evidence and scientific inquiry are the only things that should direct government policy.
antialias
not rated yet May 24, 2011
It is too expensive to overbuild renewables, build continent wide webs of HVDC that shuffle power from anywhere to anywhere, store ridiculous quantities of energy(solar in Germany provides ~5 times more energy in summer than in the winter when it needed the most)

Wind provides more in the winter than in summer. It all evens out. There was a test of distributed solar, wind and biomass plants carried out a few years back in germany. The successfully provided BASE loads all year round - without any need for storage (save for biomass, which needs to be stored anyways).

We already shuffle power from anywhere to anywhere. Europe has a continent-wide energy grid.

As for expenses: The WORST case scenario (calculated by Merkel's pro-nuclear party experts, no less) will increase energy cost by 0.5cent/kWh. If that worst case comes to pass then I'd be happy to pay it.
ThMSR
not rated yet May 24, 2011
Wind is crap. It doesn't provide any base at all and the costs are through the roof.

Spain and Denmark are back pedaling away from wind because of its costs.

Please provide a link to Merkel's worst case scenario, if you can.
antialias
not rated yet May 24, 2011
You can google for the recent interview with Jürgen Tritin (available on youtube) where he cites Brüderle's figures. Actually those figures are already exaggerated (Brüderle is basing them on 170bn Euros investment within the next 10 years)

In actuality we are already investing 27bn per year which hasn't lead to any increase in cost at all (the fluctuations in energy cost were all attributed to the price hikes of oil/gas). So we're already doing better than the unrealistic worst case scenario predicts.

Wind does work when you distribute it. Off shore you have almost constant wind and in the mountains it's also plentiful.

The initial costs for wind are high - but fossil fuel prices aren't going to go down and at some point we'll have to pay for the increasing environmental damage they cause (which should be added to the price of using them). by that calculation wind (and even PV) far outperforms any conventional type of power source (even nuclear)
Fionn
not rated yet May 29, 2011
For wind/solar to be viable you'd need: a) enough to meet day-time baseloads, b) enough to meet night time usage c) means of storing enough energy to provide for night d) means of producing and storing enough for winter/prolonged periods without normal winds

Neither one is feasible! Yes, older gen lightwater reactors are dangerous. So is coal. We should be trying to replace all old reactors and coal with thorium, not throwing out old, (comparably) unsafe but reliable and productive reactors and just trying to make do with wind and solar! Our growth as a civilization depends on electricity getting cheaper, not more expensive!
kaasinees
not rated yet Jun 03, 2011
Wind is pretty cheap actually, it is one of the best energy sources to invest in. Solar heat is also very cheap and produces more than PV. Cheap PV is nice although they aren't very efficient they can be incorporated into buildings which will provide a sufficient enough area to provide a significant amount of energy.

Our growth as a civilization depends on electricity getting cheaper, not more expensive!

Oil and coal is basically cheap (well it was until it started running short and harder to reach) but also destructive for the environment(that includes us).
Cheap does not mean better(coal, oil), expensive also doesn't mean better(nuclear).
What we need is a smarter civilization not a cheaper one.

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