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Germany shuts down its final three nuclear power plants, but govt admits plan has downsides

Germany has started shutting down three of its remaining nuclear power stations as part a long-planned shift towards renewable energy.

The decision to shut down the Emsland II, Neckarwestheim II, and Isar II nuclear reactors was made more than 10 years ago. However, it has caused a lot of controversy.

Nuclear energy is being used by other industrialized countries, such as the UK and US, Japan, China, and France, to replace fossil fuels.

The decision by Germany to cease using nuclear as well as fossil fuels was met with some skepticism and a few last-minute attempts to stop the shutdown.


After the disasters in Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima sparked by decades of anti-nuclear demonstrations in Germany, successive governments were under pressure to stop its use.

Environmental groups plan to celebrate the day by holding rallies and celebrations at the reactors, as well as in other major cities including Berlin.

Nuclear energy supporters say that fossil fuels must be phased out as part of the global effort to curb climate changes. They argue that nuclear power is safer and produces fewer greenhouse gases.


During the energy price spike last year, due to the conflict in Ukraine, some members from the German government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz changed their minds about the planned 31 December 2022 closure date for nuclear plants.

In a compromise Mr Scholz agreed on a single extension of the deadline but insisted the final countdown will take place on the 15th April.

Markus Soeder is the conservative governor of Bavaria. He backed the 2011 deadline when Angela Merkel, then Germany’s chancellor was in charge. This week, he called the shutdown an “absolute mistaken decision”.

He said: “While other countries are expanding their nuclear power, Germany does the opposite.”

We need all forms of energy. We risk higher electricity costs and businesses leaving if we don’t.

Nuclear power advocates around the world have criticised Germany’s shutdown. They are aware that this action by Europe’s largest economy could be a blow to the technology they promote as a reliable and clean alternative to fossil fuels.

The German government acknowledged that in the short-term, it will be more dependent on coal and gas, which are both polluting, to meet the country’s energy needs. However, they have taken steps to increase the production of electricity from solar and winds.

Germany’s goal is to become carbon neutral by the year 2045.

Steffi Lemke, the environment minister, has said that there is no nuclear renaissance. She cites data that shows atomic energy is losing its share in global electricity production.

Ms Lemke, at a recent press conference in Berlin noted that the construction of new nuclear plants across Europe, including Hinkley C, in the UK, had been plagued by significant delays and costs overruns.

She argued that it would be more cost-effective to install renewable energy than spend money on maintaining or building new reactors.


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