Energy Security, Energy Reality in America, Germany

By April 13, 2011Energy

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke spoke in Milwaukee today with WisBusiness.com filing a report:

MILWAUKEE — U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke told a Milwaukee audience the United States — and Wisconsin — needs to invest in alternative energy or it risks being left behind by other world powers.

“America doesn’t want to wake up five years from now asking itself how China was able to make the transition to alternative energy and not the United States,” Locke said during a speech to the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce on Tuesday. “If you don’t develop your industries in alternative energies here in the state, then those jobs will be created in another state. I can tell you countries like China are spending billions of dollars to create energy alternatives.”

Locke said one way to improve the economy is to break America’s “oil addiction.” Locke said the Obama administration has made major new investments in next-generation clean energy sources like wind, solar and biofuels, as well as a national smart grid that can deliver that energy to homes and businesses across the country.

Meanwhile, in Germany, the Fukushima-inspired decision of the ruling coalition to join the Greens and Social Democrats in supporting an expedited phase-out of nuclear energy is running into problems, which is to say, reality. From Der Spiegel, “Resistance Mounts to Germany’s Ambitious Renewable Energy Plans“:

To reach its goals of a nuclear-free Germany, Merkel’s government now plans to dot all parts of the country with massive wind turbines as well as high-voltage power masts needed to create a modern smart grid to transport the electricity supply from the windy north to the southern part of the country. A €5-billion ($7.25 billion) special program to expand wind parks in the North and Baltic seas will be launched this autumn. Central to the program, Brüderle and Röttgen write, would be a “joint initiative by the federal government and the regional states to identify suitable locations for wind power facilities.” Obstacles to planning approval such as restrictions on the height and spacing of the turbines “will be removed,” the paper says. …

Those are the requirements of the current zeitgeist, say the green revolutionaries in Merkel’s center-right coalition. They have public opinion behind them: More than 80 percent of Germans want to see the country abandon nuclear energy. But there is one major caveat: When it comes to major energy projects, most Germans do not want them in their own backyard. Just as soon as plans are unveiled for mass wind turbines near residential areas, home owners and locals are quick to organize local campaigns to halt construction.

Indeed, NIMBY is a phenomenon found across prosperous, industrialized countries.

The reference is to a draft plan from Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen and German Economics Minister Rainer Brüderle of the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) proposing “six points for an accelerated energy turnaround.” Germany gets about 25 percent of its electricity from nuclear power.

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