Germany to shut down last remaining nuclear power plants
Betting that it can fulfil its green ambitions without atomic power despite the energy crisis caused by the Ukraine war, Germany is set to shut down its three remaining nuclear plants on Saturday, News.Az reports citing AFP.
The cloud of white steam that has risen since 1989 over the river in Neckarwestheim, near Stuttgart, will soon be a distant memory, as will the Isar 2 complex in Bavaria and the Emsland plant in the north.
At a time when many Western countries are ramping up nuclear power in their transition to greener energy sources, Europe's biggest economy is resolutely sticking to its plans – though not everyone agrees.
Germany has been looking to phase out nuclear power since 2002, but the decision was accelerated by former Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2011 after the Fukushima disaster in Japan.
Fukushima showed that "even in a high-tech country like Japan, the risks of nuclear energy cannot be safely controlled," Merkel said at the time.
The exit decision was popular in a country with a powerful anti-nuclear movement fueled by fears of Cold War conflict and disasters such as Chernobyl.
But Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 threatened to upend the plans, putting an end to cheap Russian gas and throwing the country into an unprecedented energy crisis.
Just a few months before Germany's last three remaining plants were due to be turned off on Dec. 31, 2022, the tide of public opinion began to turn.
Sixteen reactors have been closed in Germany since 2003.
The three final plants provided 6% of Germany's energy last year, compared with 30.8% from all nuclear plants in 1997.
Meanwhile, Germany produced 46% of its energy from renewables in 2022, up from less than 25% a decade ago.