Goodbye nuclear! Germany shuts down its last three remaining nuclear plants

The move is inspired by Japan's 2011 Fukushima disaster.
Loukia Papadopoulos
An illustration of a nuclear power plant.jpg
An illustration of a nuclear power plant.


Germany is shutting down its last three nuclear power stations by Saturday, according to a report by Reuters.

The Isar II, Emsland, and Neckarwestheim II nuclear reactors will cease operations permanently as the country moves toward a fully renewable electricity generation plan by 2035.

Germany already had ambitious plans to quit nuclear power definitively after Japan's 2011 Fukushima disaster but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted Germany to halt Russian fossil fuel imports renewing an interest in the energy type.

Plans for a nuclear shutdown have been proposed since the 1970s when a coalition government including the Greens introduced a law that would have led to a phase out of all reactors by about 2021.

But not all agree with the new decision. Arnold Vaatz, a former lawmaker for Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), had some harsh words for the move.

"I called it the biggest economic stupidity by the party since (it was first in government it) 1949 and I'm sticking to that," Vaatz, one of only five conservative lawmakers who opposed the exit bill, told Reuters.

But was it an unwise move? The nation does not seem to need the energy source as last year, nuclear power made up just 6 percent of Germany's energy production compared to a whopping 44 percent from renewables.

Still, a survey by the Forsa institute showed that two thirds of Germans still favor extending the lifespan of reactors.

"I think this is certainly fed to a large extent by the fear that the supply situation is simply not secure," Forsa analyst Peter Matuschek told Reuters.

Nuclear power advocates further argue that Germany will have to go back to nuclear eventually if it wants to phase out fossil fuels by 2045.

"By phasing out nuclear power, Germany is committing itself to coal and gas because there is not always enough wind blowing or sun shining," said Rainer Klute, head of pro-nuclear non-profit association Nuklearia.

For now, the main issue is tackling all the nuclear waste.

"There are still at least another 60 years ahead of us, which we will need for the dismantling and the long-term safe storage of the remnants," said Wolfram Koenig, head of the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management told Reuters.


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