Germany is abandoning nuclear power by closing its last three nuclear power plants, marking the end of the country's more than six-decade nuclear era.
Despite calls to preserve the facilities due to the energy crisis, the German government has stood firm in its decision. "The position of the German government is clear: nuclear energy is not green. Nor is it sustainable.” he told CNN Steffi Lemke, Federal Minister of Environment and Consumer Protection of Germany and member of the Green Party.
The closure of the three factories, Emsland, Isar 2 and Neckarwestheim, took place yesterday Saturday and represents the culmination of a plan put in place more than 20 years ago. But its roots are even older.
In the 1970s, a strong anti-nuclear movement emerged in Germany. Various groups have come together to protest the new power plants, concerned about the risks posed by the technology and, for some, the link to nuclear weapons. The movement gave birth to the Green Party, which is now part of the governing coalition.
For critics of Germany's policy, however, it is absurd to shut down a low-carbon energy source as the effects of the climate crisis intensify. "We need to keep existing, safe nuclear reactors running while ramping up renewable energy sources as quickly as possible," Leah Stokes, a professor of climate and energy policy at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told CNN.
The big danger, he said, is that fossil fuels fill the energy gap left by nuclear. Reductions in Germany's nuclear power were mostly offset by increases in coal, according to a research which was published last year.
Germany plans to replace around 6% of the electricity produced by the three nuclear power plants with renewable energy sources, but also natural gas and coal (!). Now Germany must figure out what to do with the deadly, highly radioactive waste, which will remain dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years.
CNN also notes how other countries are approaching nuclear power:
- Denmark adopted a resolution in the 1980s not to build nuclear power plants
- Finland opened a new nuclear plant last year
- Switzerland voted in 2017 to phase out nuclear power
- France, which receives about 70% of its nuclear power, plans six new reactors.
- Italy shut down the last reactors of in 1990
- Turkey has 4 nuclear reactors in the construction stage. He plans a small uranium mining site.