German anti-nuclear NIMBYs now protest against green "energy autobahns"
By Finfacts Team
Apr 21, 2011 - 5:44 AM

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Fresh from a victory in forcing the German government to abandon its nuclear policy, NIMBYs (people afflicted with the Not In My Back Yard syndrome) are bracing to battle against the massive new power lines and wind turbines that are being built across the country as part of the green energy program, but Der Spiegel magazine says the "energy autobahns" are facing resistance from all sides.

Almost three weeks after Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster, Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling Christian Democratic Union was humiliated in an election in the prosperous southwestern region of Baden-Württemberg, where her party had ruled for nearly 60 years.

Germany's Green Party got 24.2% of the votes and beat the SPD (23.2%), the main opposition party in the Bundestag, the federal parliament, for the first time

The election was seen as a referendum on the country's nuclear energy policy.

"It's a deep wound in the history of Baden-Württemberg and also in the history of the CDU," Merkel said.

"The pain from this loss won't go away in just one day. We'll have to work for a long time to overcome the pain from this defeat."

The chancellor did a quick U-turn on nuclear policy and closed seven older nuclear power plants while accelerating plans for development of renewable energy.

The government plans to spend €5bn on expanding wind parks in the North and Baltic seas and a new grid is required to channel the energy around the country.

Der Spiegel says that even in Baden-Württemberg, which has the lowest percentage of wind power of any state -- at just 0.9% of net electricity consumption -- people seem to have protested against virtually every wind turbine installed there.

The magazine says the German Energy Agency (DENA), said in 2005 that 850 kilometers of high-voltage transmission lines will have to be built by the year 2015. Only 100 kilometers of this extended grid has been built so far. In its latest study, DENA anticipates that an additional 3,600 kilometers will be required by 2020.

Der Spiegel cites a case in late 2006, when the German government obliged grid operators to connect planned offshore wind parks in the North Sea to their networks.

The experts examined an area roughly 100 kilometers wide and 170 kilometers long. On a "regional resistance map" they highlighted in pink all areas with a wide range of problems, in orange all areas with a marked tendency toward problems, in yellow all moderately problematic areas and in green all areas that present virtually no problems. When the map was finished, it glowed pink, orange and yellow nearly everywhere. The experts unfortunately found that there were "no contiguous low-conflict corridors available."

Four years later, the process has reached stage two -- and will probably be followed by additional stages that could take years to complete. The magazine says today, seven different power line routes are under consideration. It still remains unclear whether and where the line will be built, but the state governments in Lower Saxony and Hesse aim to decide on at least the rough route by this summer.

In Ireland, there is also no shortage of people who wish to have their cake and eat it.

Safety factors are important at for example the Corrib gas project but if that wasn't the issue, the NIMBYs would find something else.

It's interesting also that the Irish Green Party used to say that climate change would require tough choices while ready to jump on passing populist bandwagons.

Der Spiegel International - -  Renewable Energy

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