I visited the Deutsche Welle homepage for a completely different reason today, but I came across two interesting articles on renewable and atomic energy:
The first article is about Metsamor, a nuclear reactor based on a Soviet design from the 1960s, that is still operating in Armenia, some thirty kilometers from the capital Yerevan in the middle of an earthquake zone. The reactor was shut down following the devastating 1988 earthquake, but was reactivated in the 1990s, when Armenia was experiencing an energy crisis due to the conflict with the neighbouring country Azerbaijan.
An outdated Soviet reactor operating in an earthquake zone near a large city – this is scary on so many levels. Though I understand that Armenia cannot just shut down the Metsamor power station, considering that it supplies 43% of the country’s power. However, now they want to replace the aging and dangerous reactor – with a new nuclear power station!
The second article explains why Germany lags behind Britain or the Netherlands with regard to offshore wind parks, even though we are far ahead with regard to windmills on shore. The reason is that particularly the current center-right government continued to bet on nuclear power for far too long and neglected exploring large-scale alternative projects such as offshore wind parks.
Though the article is wrong in claiming that Angela Merkel won the 2009 election, because she promised to extend the maximum lifetimes of Germany’s nuclear reactors. Merkel won in 2009, because she had actually done a decent job from 2005 to 2009 and because a lot of people fell for the promises of her coalition partner, the FDP, to lower taxes. Nuclear power was not a deciding factor in the 2009 general election, since we all believed that we would be rid of the damned things in fifteen years anyway. Besides, opposition to nuclear power in Germany was strong even before Fukushima (and has been strong for as long as I can remember), so Merkel would have shot herself in the foot bringing up the subject during the election campaign.