The tragedy of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan will continue to affect the automotive world in a roundabout way: by making us all think a bit harder about how to generate the power we need for plug-in vehicles.
Obviously, the absolute best way to charge your batteries is through a renewable energy source like solar or wind power, but that's not feasible for everyone right now. There are some places where nifty technologies like biomass for electricity generation are used, but most of us will have to rely on a more common energy source, something like coal or nuclear for the near future. With nuclear energy deservedly coming under the microscope as the problems at the Fukushima nuclear plant continue to make headlines, what are our realistic options for the coming decades?
As we noted the other day, a discussion to answer this question is already happening. An article in Just Means shows us that in Germany, at least, the government is trying to have its cake and eat it, too. Faced with a strong anti-nuclear movement, Germany passed the Nuclear Exit Law in 2000. This law required the country to end any reliance on nuclear power by 2021, but this timeline was pushed back in 2010. Following the Japan disaster, Chancellor Angela Merkel "and other leading politicians have reversed their positions on nuclear energy and are embracing a nuke-free future once again."
What's interesting is that Germany is not claiming that the only options before it are nuclear or fossil fuels. Instead of this false choice, Germany is getting off nukes and pushing hard for renewable energy. As Just Means writes, "If Germany can phase out nuclear power and fossil fuels at the same time, other countries ought to be able to do the same." Sure, the country has a bit of a head start, but there's no technological or physical reason the U.S. couldn't do the same. Germany is shooting to have 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. Where will we be by then?
[Source: Just Means | | Image: keith011764 – C.C. License 2.0]