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Germany announces shutdown of nuclear facilities by 2022

Germany’s coalition government has agreed to shut down all the country’s nuclear power plants by 2022, the environment minister said, making it the first major industrialised power to go nuclear-free since the Japanese disaster.

The country’s seven oldest reactors already taken off the grid pending safety inspections following the catastrophe at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in March will remain off-line permanently, Norbert Roettgen added. The country has 17 reactors in total.

Roettgen praised the coalition agreement after negotiations through the night between the governing parties.

“This is coherent. It is clear,” he told reporters in Berlin. “That’s why it is a good result.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed through measures in 2010 to extend the lifespan of the country’s 17 reactors, with the last one scheduled to go off-line in 2036, but she reversed her policy in the wake of the Japanese disaster.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, stands alone among the world’s major industrialised nations still using nuclear power in its determination to gradually replace it with renewable energy sources. Italy decided to stop producing nuclear power after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Throughout March - before the seven reactors were taken off-line - just under a quarter of Germany’s electricity was produced by nuclear power, about the same share as in the US.

Energy from wind, solar and hydroelectric power currently produces about 17% of the country’s electricity, but the government aims to boost its share to around 50% in the coming decades.

Many Germans have been vehemently opposed to nuclear power since Chernobyl sent radioactive fallout over the country. Tens of thousands repeatedly took to the street in the wake of Fukushima to urge the government to shut all reactors.

Merkel’s government ordered the country’s seven oldest reactors, built before 1980, shut down four days after the Fukushima incident.

The plants, which will now remain off-line, accounted for about 40% of the country’s nuclear power capacity.

Readers' comments (4)

  • This decision appears to follow a trend of knee jerk reactions rather than carefully considered policy in relation to nuclear energy.

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  • NIMBY State.

    One of the German policies for replacing the capacity of the reactors being taken out of service is to import electricity from France - where it will probably have been produced by nuclear power.

    Why are they pandering to a vociferous minority instead of conducting a thourough risk assessment to determine what events from Japan could reasonably occur in Germany, and whether mitigation measures could be put in place to counter the effects.

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  • Which country built the first commercial nuclear power station? Which country built the first turbo jet airliner? Which country led the world in railway systems? Which country had the largest shipbuilding industry in the world? Which country is not providing the technical capabilities for offshore wind generation? Which country has lost control of its electricity distribution networks?
    Which country is fooling itself that it has a major role to play in offshore wave and tidal energy generation? What next Britain? Do we shun technology in favour of a discredited financial sector? At our peril!!

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  • So the Germans are dumping nuclear energy, because of pressure generated by the Green Party in their Government Coalition and a knee jerk reaction to the problems in Japan! How will they replace the 25% or so of power that they currently generate by Nuclear Power?

    They already have a programme of refurbishment and re-building of Coal Fired Power Plants. There is also massive concern about the necessary additional and extensive above ground pylons and cabling needed across extensive forest and natural open country to connect existing and any future Wind Farms in the North Sea and Baltic to the areas of major power demand further south!

    I suspect what they’ll do is to continue with the coal fired plants, which were organised to be outside any CO2 reduction agreements. They will also have some agreement with the Poles to jointly develop their extensive shale gas deposits and build massive numbers of Gas Turbine Power Plants. Using gas to eventually replace coal will save 65% or so of the latter’s CO2 emissions and they will argue that further Gas Turbines, as replacements for Wind Turbines, will only save 10% or so less carbon emissions compared with the far more expensive Wind Turbine Systems with necessary Gas Turbine Standby Units – as needed for no/low too high wind conditions. They will further argue that spending the horrendously more money needed for Wind Farm Systems compared to Gas Turbines alone plus the added cost and environmental damage from the extension new pylon runs needed across pristine forest and open land will make Wind Farms an even more non-viable, unnecessarily over expensive option. For them the Wind Farm Wars will be over!

    The Germans will then maintain a secure cheap power supply for the next 30 -40 years or more to greatly assist in keeping down their domestic, commercial and industrial costs and maintaining their competitiveness, whilst at the same time contributing to CO2 emissions’ reductions and achieving targets set – even supposing such reductions are necessary. They will also be able to afford and will massively spend on R&D to put themselves in the forefront of alternative thorium, fusion or whatever alternative cheap and safe power systems are needed in the future!

    In comparison, what will the poor UK do? Muddle, muddle, talk, talk, react to every hysterical Green outburst and descend further down the world economic league, suitably assisted by the ICE and other UK professional engineering institutions, if only by default!

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