07 February 2009

'A Kind of "Better Germany"'

Rising oil prices, the politics of natural gas and concerns over global warming have forced a rethink of the merits of nuclear power in many countries. Now, 28 years after voting to phase out nuclear power the Swedes too have had a change of hear. The Swedish government is proposing that existing nuclear reactors should be replaced as they are decommissioned.

According to Spiegel the Swedish decision has caused both relief and horror among German commentators who have been discussing its implications for Germany. Germany followed Sweden's example when in 2000 the government of Chancellor Schröder decided to shut down all of Germany's nuclear reactors by 2025. Having followed the Swedish example then, the argument is whether the German's should also do so now.

(If you want to know everything you can imagine and then some about nuclear power in Sweden, Germany and 37 other countries you can consult the International Atomic Energy Agency's Country Nuclear Power Profiles database.)

While Germany is not building reactors, Germans are. The ever present Siemens AG has a 34% stake in Areva NP, a company that is 'dedicated to the design and construction of nuclear power plants' - so dedicated that it 'has built about 100 nuclear plants in 11 countries that provide about 30% of the world's total installed nuclear power capacity.'

One page of the Areva NP website offers you the chance to build your very own nuclear power plant. A 3,000 part card model of the Olkiluoto 3 reactor in Finland, currently under construction, is available for the real enthusiasts. The less ambitious or skilled can try their hand at a 350 part model which can be downloaded and printed out.

Local readers will be proud to know that the model was designed right here in Bavaria in Rottenburg a.d. Laaber by Thomas Pleiner. His website is worth browsing. It's incredible what this man can do with paper and card. I'm very tempted to print out the basic version and give it a go. If I do, I'll be sure to post a picture of the end result here, providing it isn't too embarassing.

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