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Germany's post-nuclear landscape

Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - 02:46

June 15 - After the Fuksuhima disaster in Japan, Germany led the way in deciding to switch off nuclear power. As it turns to renewable energy and analysts warn of possible power supply shortages, Reuters TV visits a small German town which already covers all its energy needs with alternatives. Joanna Partridge reports.

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They're already part of the landscape - but the numbers of wind turbines dotted on hillsides across Germany will increase exponentially over the new few years. In the wake of Japan's Fukushima disaster, many countries are considering the future of nuclear power, while Berlin has already decided to shut all its nuclear reactors by 2022. Analysts like Konstantin Lenz from Lenz Energy says Germany may suffer from power shortages, especially if next winter is cold. SOUNDBITE: Konstantin Lenz, Lenz Energy, saying (Germany): "It doesn't make any sense to switch off nuclear power in Germany, if it then has to import electricity from France and the Czech Republic, and most people agree on that, but in reality it may not be avoidable over the next few years." The future has already arrived in the small town of Dardesheim. Located in the former East Germany - it generates its energy from wind, solar and biomass - and some of the town's 1000 inhabitants like deputy mayor Ralf Voigt drive fully-electric cars. Voigt says the locals weren't all happy when construction of the wind park began in 2004. SOUNDBITE: Ralf Voigt, Deputy mayor of Dardesheim, saying (German): "They discovered the advantages of wind turbines and how it benefitted them. That made them change their opinion about renewable energy, and especially about wind turbines, which aren't always pretty, and they realised they really are valuable." The 31 turbines in the wind park were produced just 75 kilometres down the road by the German firm Enercon. The biggest is able to generate up to 6 megawatts of power. PTC "Even on days when it's not that sunny or windy, Dardesheim is still able to cover its energy needs. In fact the wind park alone makes more than forty times what the town's houses and businesses require." Dardesheim also supplies neighbouring towns with power and sells the rest to the national grid. The wind park's technical director Thomas Radach says one problem Dardesheim faces is storing all the extra energy it makes - and that's something the whole of Germany will have to contend with. SOUNDBITE: Thomas Radach, Technical Director of Dardesheim wind park, saying (German): "We are turning away from nuclear power and we have to look for suitable ways of temporarily storing this energy, for example in pump storage power plants, or in batteries for electric vehicles." The German government is aware some say the nuclear switch-off will increase its dependance on polluting brown coal. But while they're building up their renewable energy sources - Berlin could learn a lot from communities like Dardesheim. Joanna Partridge in Germany for Reuters

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Germany's post-nuclear landscape

Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - 02:46