Electricity

End of nuclear era in Germany

Photo: EnBW

Published

April 13, 2023

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Published:

April 13, 2023

Country:

Comments:

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Germany is abandoning nuclear power – this week, the country will take the remaining three plants off the grid. The government has decided not to extend their operation any longer. Initially, it was supposed to switch off the reactors at the end of last year. However, two-thirds of the population oppose the shutdown of the last nuclear power plants.

April 15 will mark the end of the nuclear energy era in Germany, which began more than 60 years ago. The European energy crisis has prompted an extension of the operation of the remaining nuclear power plants to maintain the security of supply.

Proponents of the technology argue that abandoning nuclear power is premature and claim it would exacerbate challenges for energy security and the efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The lifespan of the remaining reactors was supposed to end at the end of 2022, but the government decided to shut them down three and a half months later.

Isar 2 and Neckarwestheim 2 are located in the southern part of the country, and the Emsland nuclear power plant is in the north.

Divided views on the closure of power plants

The decommissioning of nuclear power became a central political topic during the energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. Part of the opposition led by the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) advocated another extension. There was also a heated debate between the Party of Free Democrats (FDP) and the Alliance of 90/Greens (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), minority partners in the coalition government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Only 26% of citizens fully support the total rejection of nuclear energy

However, in a YouGov poll, about two-thirds of respondents said they were against the impending closure of the remaining three nuclear power plants. About a third of the participants stated they should continue operating for a while, while another third was for an unlimited extension. Just 26% of citizens fully supported a complete abandonment of nuclear power.

The following steps are to disassemble the reactor and dispose of nuclear waste

In 2000, the government decided to phase out nuclear energy. Now it will take several decades to bring the process to a close. Authorities must facilitate the dismantling of around 30 plants and find long-term solutions for storing radioactive waste. The government acknowledged it would be a big challenge.

Authorities must facilitate the dismantling of around 30 nuclear plants

The pace of nuclear phaseout accelerated in 2011 after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. Activists have begun revolting against nuclear power already in the 1970s. The movement gave birth to the Greens’ party.

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H Safa / April 19, 2023

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