Two carbon-reduction paths diverge in the European policy wood: United Kingdom takes less traveled, more interesting one

Steve Alpin has several excellent posts up on carbon reduction policies that work (as opposed to Kyoto-style emission reduction goals). In this series Steve references the quadrant-style matrix of carbon intensity vs. energy price. Of course what we strive for is Low-Intensity & Low-Price (Quadrant IV). The “feel good” German/Denmark policies have put those nations in Quadrant II (High-Intensity & High-Price). Steve’s graphic illustrates this nicely: 

An excerpt:

Germany’s much-touted and -admired route to carbon dioxide (CO2) reductions has, predictably, proved to be an embarrassing and expensive failure. The bubble chart represents electricity data from 2010. As you can see, German electricity was, kilowatt-hour for kilowatt-hour, the second-dirtiest of the 10 jurisdictions shown on the chart. Only British electricity contained more carbon (two grams more per kWh). The data on which the chart was based is shown in a table at the bottom of this article.

(…snip…) Given the enormous difference in France’s position on the Carbon-Price Matrix (deep inside Quadrant IV, where everybody wants to be) versus that of Germany (deep inside Quadrant II, where nobody wants to be), it is clear that the French walk the walk on carbon. Germany only talks the talk.

(…snip…) And it is going to get worse. German politicians, who have lectured the world for decades on the urgent necessity of cutting CO2 emissions, are now in full expectation-management mode: telling their citizens not to demonize coal.


To repeat, Germany is expanding its use of CO2-emitting coal-fired electricity generation because it needs to replace the output of the nuclear generating plants it is shutting down. Sadly, the wind turbines for which Germany is famous simply cannot do that job. They cannot do it today, have never been able to, and never will be able to.

That is why Germany is in Quadrant II of the Carbon-Price Matrix.

Meanwhile, across the English Channel, the British are gearing up to build a fleet of new nuclear plants. This is because the UK does not just profess to be concerned about climate change and anthropogenic CO2 emissions. It is because the UK clearly is concerned about cutting CO2.

Read the whole thing.