Germany Is Shutting Down Three of Its Last Six Nuclear Plants Today
While the new government takes charge of affairs in Germany, some older policies continue to remain in force. As the world bids goodbye to 2021, so will Germany to three of its last six nuclear power plants, Reuters reported.
Nuclear energy has been around for a while, is scalable, and innovations could even help us make further use of radioactive waste. The U.S. sees nuclear energy as a way to move away from carbon-emitting fuels without compromising on power output or the costs. While this was also Germany's approach in the early 2000s, the Fukushima disaster in 2011 led to a drastic change in the country's policy as the legislators led by Merkel decided to accelerate the shutdown of its 17 functioning nuclear power plants, according to the Atlantic.
The three reactors that will shut down at the end of 2021 are based in Brokdorf, Grohnde, and Gundremmingen while the remaining three reactors Isar 2, Emsland and Neckarwestheim II will be shut down by the end of 2022, Reuters reported. The move also comes in a year where gas shortages have plagued Europe's power generation capacity and energy prices have gone through the roof.
Although Germany has been leading the way in renewable power generation capacity, it currently supplies only 41 percent of the country's needs. Coal and natural gas that currently meet 28 and 15 percent of the energy needs will now be expected to make up for the 25 percent share that nuclear power plants once supplied. By 2030, Germany is working on expanding its solar and wind power generation capacities which are expected to meet 80 percent of the total demand, Reuters reported.
At a time when researchers are looking for new ways to harness nuclear power, the shutting down of functional nuclear power plants without an emission-free alternative seems like a bold move.
The new government in Germany has plans to bring in more environmentally friendly measures but agrees with the nuclear power phase-out. However, it will be another two decades by the time the facilities are dismantled and radioactive waste is packaged and cleaned up from their sites, which is estimated to cost €1.1 billion ($ 1.25 billion) per plant, Reuters reported.
However, two uranium enriching plants in the country that make weapon-grade uranium will continue to remain functional, environmental groups pointed out to Reuters.