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Germany Plans Retreat from Nuclear Power by 2022

Nuclear Power Plant Cooling TowerAfter the disaster at the Japanese Fukushima nuclear power plant earlier this year, Germany has decided to close all of the nation’s nuclear reactors by 2022. This makes the country the first major industrial power to become free of nuclear energy since the Japanese crisis. This decision could jeopardise the supply of energy to the biggest economy and manufacturer in Europe.

The move comes after mass anti-nuclear protests following the Japanese disaster 2 months ago. German Green has been against atomic power and has inflicted the biggest hit to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s career after she agreed at the end of last year to extend the life of the power plants. Her Christian Democrats lost control of Baden Wuerttemberg, the regional assembly they controlled for nearly 6 decades, after the intense backlash. This gave the Greens their first ever regional premier, while the defeat set off a chain reaction that has swept her out of Bremen and Brandenburg. She tried to avoid the Green advance by shutting down the 7 oldest reactors immediately after the Fukushima crisis, but has been forced to do a complete U-turn and make Germany nuclear free.

Even though Germany gets 23% of its power from its 17 nuclear reactors – 9 are running at full capacity – the Chancellor claims that solar and wind energy may make this up. She says that the country’s energy system needs to be fundamentally changed and can be. They want electricity to be safer, as well as economical and reliable. This means they will have a new approach to the network, renewable energy, energy efficiency and long-term monitoring.

Germany has become the world’s 4th largest economy in status and wealth due to its manufacturers, and they have warned that this decision will raise the cost of energy and cause electricity shortages. Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetschke warned that power cuts will harm the economy. It’s a clear risk to turn their backs on an affordable energy supply, he added.

The government’s decision has been criticised by others as well, who say that the country will just import nuclear energy from neighbouring nations and burn more fossil fuels to make up the rest of its energy needs. Swedish environment minister Andreas Carlgren says that the issue for Germany now is the likelihood that this decision will increase imports of nuclear electricity generated from France and risk the country not being able to decrease its dependency on fossil fuels. However, German environment minister Nobert Roettgen has tried to ease fears of shortages, assuring everyone that electricity supply will be available at all times for all.

Anti-nuclear organisatons in Britain have welcomed the German government’s decision. Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s Kate Hudson said that the decision should be a model for the UK. Germany has reached the decision after seriously reviewing evidence, while the British government says there’s no reason to scrap nuclear power since it’s unlikely the nation will get hit with a tsunami. However, the basic risks that come with nuclear power are still there, she added.

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