Sunday, August 10, 2008

Electricity in Germany, Denmark, and France

If you pay attention to energy issues you will often see someone praise Denmark, or Germany. From the viewpoint of most environmentalists their high percentage of energy from renewable sources makes them the countries to emulate. Most of these countries however ignore a much better example, France. This becomes apparent when you look at graphs showing where each country is getting its electricity from.

Source, which is easier to read



So, while Germany and Denmark have more of their electricity coming from renewables than elsewhere in the world, they still don't come close to France in avoiding fossil fuel use. While it is hard to say an exact number from the graph, I would estimate 10% of France's electricity comes from hydrocarbon based sources, 70% of Denmark's and 60% of Germany's. Since Germany is currently phasing out nuclear power, and dramatically increasing its number of coal plants. It is not likely they will do better than they are now any time in the near future. Even ignoring global warming, from a toxins released in the air standpoint France is almost certainly doing a better job than either Denmark or Germany. Coal power plants cause acid rain, release a whole lot of Mercury into the atmosphere, it even releases significant amounts of radioactive waste into the atmosphere because of Uranium, and Thorium in the coal being released into the atmosphere.

Of course, France isn't the end of the story either. If you add up the percentage of electricity France gets from Nuclear, with the percentage Denmark gets from renewables, than you just about have a country that doesn't use carbon to create electricity. Of course you would probably need some natural gas peaker plants to function when the wind doesn't blow, but this is as close as I can imagine us getting to carbon free electricity. Add in plug in hybrids and you came really close to a carbon free economy.

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