by Ginosar  



"...the current state of knowledge of global warming is sufficiently clear to state that failure to act promptly to reduce global emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases is overwhelmly likely to lead to changes in climate too extreme and too damaging to be adequately addressed by any adaptation measure that can be foreseen.... "

Dr. John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology


I. The common belief:

The common belief is that Germany is working hard to reduce its carbon footprint by aggressively installing green energies, especially photovoltaic (PV).


The common belief is that the US should follow Germany's example and surpass it with a larger amount of green energies.


The common belief is that China is doing little to reduce its carbon footprint. After-all, they are adding more than one coal power plant a week to its already heavy dependence on coal-generated electricity.



II. The reality:

Germany is producing only one third of one percent (0.3)% of its electricity from PV and spent $70 billion to do so. However, wind supplies 7% because it is nearly economical now. Because of the high subsidies, for PV especially, the cost of electricity is so high that some manufacturing companies are considering moving to other countries. Germany with eighty million people, and substantial local supply of coal, decided to eliminate all their nuclear power plants and thus will increase its reliance on more coal plants, already producing 50% of its electricity.


US. We have done nothing to date to reduce our immense GHG emissions. Only talk, no action.

We have three hundreds five million people and the largest global economy. We are the second largest emitter of GHG, and the largest cumulative emitter to date. Our per capita GHG emission is close to the largest in the world.

Do we want to reduce our GHG footprint substantially or copy Germany erroneous direction?

That is: Germany's huge spending on irrelevant PV performance, and their escalating reliance on coal plants?

Do we have so much money to burn without reducing our GHG?

Now 50% of our kWh is from coal; 20 % nuclear; 3 % renewables; 10 % hydro.


China: 1,350 million (4.5 times US), the largest GHG emitter, and will have the most profound increase in GHG in the future. China' one child per family policy cut their population by 400 millions in three decades.  China must reduce the deep poverty of 800 million rural people (60% of population) thus dictating large increase in electricity demand. However, contrary to most other nations, they are building nuclear power stations as fast as they can manage. Their goal is to reduce their key dependence on coal generated electricity.


Detailed Discussion:


Germany decided to go green when the Red-Green coalition came into power over a decade ago. It decided also to eliminate all nuclear power by 2020. And it gave substantial subsidies and made other laws to encourage wind and photovoltaic.

Here are the results:

Wind energy supplies 7% of the electrical demand. Good!

Photovoltaic supply 0.35% of electrical demand, yes, about a third of one percent, at very high cost

Coal plants supply 50% of its electivity, and many more coal plants are in the pipeline.

Their minister of energy said that their decision to eliminate nuclear power dictates that they will continue to depend on a larger and larger percentage of coal plants.



Is this what we want to copy in the US? More coal generated electricity which already emits some 40% of our GHG. We get 50% of our electricity from dirty coal and the idea of "clean coal" is a dream, with R&D that will take a decade and may cost in the order of a hundred dollar per ton of carbon to collect and store permanently underground. That translates into about 10 cents per kWh. About three times current price of coal-generated electricity.

We have not built any nuclear power station for the last three decades and most of our nuclear plants are approaching the end of their useful life.



China is expecting 200 million people to migrate from their poverty stricken farms to the cities in the next ten to fifteen years. They will need more housing, industry and considerably increase in energy for that.

Currently 80% of its electricity is produced from coal. China is adding 2 coal plants, probably about 1000 Megawatt total, per week. They are also building nuclear power plants.


What are the options for China?

Could the Chinese government try to stop, or drastically slow, this migration? First they will be condemned globally as dictatorial and most important, the Chinese government will have a revolution on its hands.

Do we want a revolution there? I do not believe so, it would be much worse to the world.

China has been doing more than any other country to reduce its footprint on this globe!

China cut its population by 400 millions in the last three decades after the Communist leadership set the 'one child per family' policy. Their goal was to reduce China population to 750 millions within a century.


Compare this to India that does little population control and is expected to have a larger population than China within less than 20 years. Sixty years ago India had 250 millions, half the population of China, 500 million. Now they have almost the same population.


However, China can not continue to depend on mostly coal power plants, as we shall see next time.


Next, comparing the nuclear option to coal in the above 3 countries..







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