According to the United Nations energy organization (IAEA), statistics indicate that for 2009 and 2010, nuclear reactors in Sweden and Germany managed by the Swedish firm Vattenfall had the lowest capacity factors in the (nuclear) world. Fifty-five percent was the figure given by that organization for the average availability of Swedish equipment, which is very different from the up-beat impression I attempt to provide of Swedish nuclear efforts in my forthcoming energy economics textbook (2011).
‘My goodness, but how the mighty have fallen”, to paraphrase an observation by a high ranking German officer in Theodor Plievier’s brilliant war novel Stalingrad (1949). You said it brother, because the construction of the Swedish nuclear sector was nothing less than a minor miracle, almost in the class of the construction of the American Navy and Air Force during WW2, and it achieved for the Swedish macroeconomy what the American navy achieved for our war effort at and after the battle of Midway.
It should be noted though, that the availability cited above may not be true. “Figures never lie, but liars sometimes figure,” I seem to remember one of my teachers in engineering school informing me. In fact so many lies have been put into circulation about nuclear and its proposed replacement by wind and solar, that the leading academic energy economist in the world might have a problem getting at the real deal.
That brings us to Germany, and the intentions of the government of that country to liquidate their nuclear assets. Many years ago I read a publication called ‘Wir Werden Wiedermal Marschieren’, in which a gentleman from the part of Czechoslovakia known at the Sudetenland was doing some heavy duty publicity (or promotion) for the Third World War. He argued for a more or less immediate return of German ‘properties’ in the ‘East’ to their former West German owners, and he claimed that this could be easily brought about by a full-scale military commitment by NATO, which would include a resuscitated German army and Luftwaffe.
On what I remember as the last day of the longest military exercise of its kind held in Germany up to that time, which was called *Apple Harvest’, and about the hour of the evening featuring a wonderful jazz program called ‘Munich at Midnight’, a colonel or general or something entered the operations van of the 35th Field Artillery Group, and ordered me to plot a simulated fire mission – employing tactical nuclear ammunition – that was supposed to deal with ‘enemy forces’ that had broken through the Fulda Gap. As a result, instead of listening to Miles or ‘Bird’ or Bill Evans, I made use of my extensive knowledge of addition and subtraction to complete this assignment.
Had that been a real instead of a simulated mission, the eastern suburbs of Nuremberg would have been blown off the face of the earth! As I have made it my business to point out on numerous occasions, when that soap opera reached German journalists, officers, politicians, hustlers, hippies, know-it-alls etc, the Wir Werden Wiedermal Marschieren fantasy came to a screeching halt. I don’t know who leaked that information, nor did I inquire, nor did I care, but it wasn’t me, although a few weeks later my military career was informally brought to an end. I spent my remaining year in Europe enjoying the great night presence of those cities that provided deserving soldiers like myself with some of the best R&R (Rest and Relaxation) in the world, although we have a slightly different way of describing those …advantages.
Eventually I came to the conclusion that that so-called ‘fire mission’ was a provocation, designed to reveal my pro-communist sympathies – which, incidentally, didn’t exist then or later.
Now for a short explanation of what this note is all about. To my way of thinking it is about the day when German voters discover the cost of the nuclear foolishness launched by Ms Merkel and her government. For Germany, as well as the countries of Europe that are dependent on the optimal functioning of the German economy, it might be a good thing if the former physics student Angela Merkel decided to follow those two great German-speaking scientists Marlene Dietrich and Romy Schneider to Hollywood, because the German voters of today are as enthusiastic about a lower standard of living as they were about nuclear war in their midst during those lovely days when my brilliant military career was coming to an end.
As I informed delegates at a large conference in Stockholm recently – most of whom were not happy to hear my opinion – the German nuclear retreat is a short-term gig. In the long run German economists who can add and subtract will get the cost-benefit message and pass it to journalists, officers, politicians, hustlers, hippies, rappers and break dancers. When that happens, the nuclear renaissance – which, incidentally, is already taking place – can be moved to prime time viewing.
By Professor Ferdinand E. Banks
Banks, Ferdinand E. (2011). Energy and Economic Theory. Singapore,
London and New York: World Scientific.
Plievier, Theodor (1949). Stalingrad. Berlin: Aufbau Verlag.