Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

European states line up to follow Germany’s rejection of nuclear

Germany faces a potentially huge energy gap following last week’s announcement that it is scrapping nuclear power.

20% of energy to be replaced

The country obtains over 20% of its electricity from nuclear power, over double the proportion of the UK’s reliance, which will all need replacing by 2022 when its entire fleet will be decommissioned.

Wind, solar and hydroelectric sources currently provide about 17% of the country’s electricity, but the government aims to boost the proportion coming from renewables to around 50% in the coming decades.

University of Warwick nuclear researcher Paul Dorfman said that he believes Germany’s decision is the correct one.

However, he said that in the medium term Germany will need to increase its reliance on imported gas and coal, and new technologies such as carbon capture and storage can hold the key to low carbon success.

“If you can develop carbon capture and storage on existing coal, why would you need nuclear?” he said.

“If you can develop carbon capture and storage on existing coal, why would you need nuclear?”

University of Warwick nuclear researcher Paul Dorfman

The German decision is the latest in a series of rejections of nuclear power across Europe.Italy is also taking action following the Fukushima disaster, and has announced a complete moratorium on new nuclear
and plans a referendum next month.

Switzerland has since reiterated its no nuclear stance, and this month announced it will be closing its nuclear power plants by 2034, with some decommission expected within this decade.

Denmark has long been known as anti-nuclear and a recent report by its government stated that new nuclear is the most costly low carbon energy, a position that contradicts data from a UK Climate Change Committee report, which says that new nuclear is the cheapest low carbon source.


New nuclear has been more popular elsewhere in Europe but has not come without controversy. In Finland, the construction of the Olkiluoto nuclear reactor project has been beset by problems − it is running three years behind schedule due to a multitude of factors including quality control issues.

Independent nuclear consultant John Large told NCE that if the project was cancelled it would be “the end for nuclear in the country”.

Neighbouring Sweden is developing new nuclear but is expected to rule it out in the next two to three weeks.
The country also has boiling water reactors similar to those used at the Fukushima plant.

France continues to push forward with new nuclear. Confidence is high there as the French government has major stakes in operator EdF and reactor vender Areva. The two firms designed the European Pressurised Reactor, in use in Finland and now also at Flamanville 3 in France.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.