Germany: Nuclear power plants to close by 2022

 
Anti-nuclear protester in Munich, 28 May Germany saw mass anti-nuclear protests in the wake of the Fukushima disaster

Related Stories

Germany's coalition government has announced a reversal of policy that will see all the country's nuclear power plants phased out by 2022.

The decision makes Germany the biggest industrial power to announce plans to give up nuclear energy.

Environment Minister Norbert Rottgen made the announcement following late-night talks.

Chancellor Angela Merkel set up a panel to review nuclear power following the crisis at Fukushima in Japan.

There have been mass anti-nuclear protests across Germany in the wake of March's Fukushima crisis, triggered by an earthquake and tsunami.

'Sustainable energy'

Mr Rottgen said the seven oldest reactors - which were taken offline for a safety review immediately after the Japanese crisis - would never be used again. An eighth plant - the Kruemmel facility in northern Germany, which was already offline and has been plagued by technical problems, would also be shut down for good.

Six others would go offline by 2021 at the latest and the three newest by 2022, he said.

Analysis

Nearly a quarter of German's electricity comes from nuclear power so the question becomes: How do you make up the short-fall?

The official commission which has studied the issue reckons that electricity use can be cut by 10% in the next decade through more efficient machinery and buildings.

The intention is also to increase the share of wind energy. This, though, would mean re-jigging the electricity distribution system because much of the extra wind power would come from farms on the North Sea to replace atomic power stations in the south.

Protest groups are already vocal in the beautiful, forested centre of the country which, they fear, will become a north-south "energie autobahn" of pylons and high-voltage cables.

Some independent analysts believe that coal power will benefit if the wind plans don't deliver what is needed.

And on either side of Germany are France, with its big nuclear industry, and Poland, which has announced an intention to build two nuclear power stations.

Mr Rottgen said: "It's definite. The latest end for the last three nuclear power plants is 2022. There will be no clause for revision."

Mr Rottgen said a tax on spent fuel rods, expected to raise 2.3bn euros (£1.9bn) a year from this year, would remain despite the shutdown.

Mrs Merkel's centre-right Christian Democrats met their junior partners on Sunday after the ethics panel had delivered its conclusions.

Before the meeting she said: "I think we're on a good path but very, very many questions have to be considered.

"If you want to exit something, you also have to prove how the change will work and how we can enter into a durable and sustainable energy provision."

The previous German government - a coalition of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens - decided to shut down Germany's nuclear power stations by 2021.

However, last September Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition scrapped those plans - announcing it would extend the life of the country's nuclear reactors by an average of 12 years.

Ministers said they needed to keep nuclear energy as a "bridging technology" to a greener future.

The decision to extend was unpopular in Germany even before the radioactive leaks at the Fukushima plant.

But following Fukushima, Mrs Merkel promptly scrapped her extension plan, and announced a review.

Greens boosted

Germany's nuclear industry has argued that an early shutdown would be hugely damaging to the country's industrial base.

Before March's moratorium on the older power plants, Germany relied on nuclear power for 23% of its energy.

The anti-nuclear drive boosted Germany's Green party, which took control of the Christian Democrat stronghold of Baden-Wuerttemberg, in late March.

Shaun Burnie, nuclear adviser for environmental campaign group Greenpeace International, told the BBC World Service that Germany had already invested heavily in renewable energy.

"The various studies from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that renewables could deliver, basically, global electricity by 2050," he said.

"Germany is going to be ahead of the game on that and it is going to make a lot of money, so the message to Germany's industrial competitors is that you can base your energy policy not on nuclear, not on coal, but on renewables."

Shares in German nuclear utilities RWE and E.On fell on the news, though it had been widely expected.

But it was good news for manufacturers of renewable energy infrustructure.

German solar manufacturer, Solarworld, was up 7.6% whilst Danish wind turbine maker Vestas gained more than 3%.

 

More on This Story

Related Stories

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 305.

    In principle they are probably right.
    I live in Germany,
    not far from a reactor, there will be a massive job loss and where will we get our power from and at what cost?
    The cost of this political move could be very damaging to our economy!

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 302.

    Germany has shut down 8 of 17 nuclear plants already. Everybody said it would be impossible, but I haven't heard of any problems yet. Germany was the largest exporter of energy in 2010 after all. The decision of the SPD/Greens government in 2000 has quintupled the production of renewable energy in Germany till 2010 and 340 000 jobs have been created. It's pro-economy not con!

    Regards from Germany

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 162.

    With a world population growing we need more power, like it or not we have to get it from somewhere. Whichever way we go folks will be either be happy of grumpy - I personally think Germany is making a mistake and Nuclear is the only way to go.


  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 112.

    I didn't think Germans were the type to succumb to this green bandwagon, the irony of this is that they cannot close their nuclear capacity with driving up their increase of fossil fuels, which the green bandwagon will also not like, but any largescale move to renewables in the short term will cripple their economic growth... which the green bandwagon will also not like

  • rate this
    -31

    Comment number 103.

    A very enlightened and heartening decision.We have the talent,the invention,the capability here in the UK to make the same decision and to go for an ecologically sound energy policy for the future.Let's rid ourselves of the fear politics of dependancy on oil,gas,nuclear and fully embrace the future green energies.Where there are gaps,the massively talented people of the country will find answers.

 

Comments 5 of 9

 

More Europe stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • getawayDigital detox

    If you can’t shake your device addiction on your own, there’s a getaway for you

Programmes

  • Hitch-hiking robot HitchBOTClick Watch

    Hitch-hiking robot HitchBOT completes a 6,000 km (3,700 mile) trip plus other tech news

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.