Germany will shut all its nuclear reactors by 2022. In a surprise announcement Angela Merkel has committed to much more far reaching changes in the nuclear industry in Germany than most were expecting.
The last nuclear power plant is now scheduled for closure in 2022. This is the most far-reaching political decision in a country far from Japan since the Japanese Fukushima nuclear disaster
After the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March, Chancellor Angela Merkel changed her mind on a previous decision just months earlier to extend the life of ageing nuclear stations in Germany, where most voters oppose atomic energy. Seven nuclear power stations have been off-grid since Angela Merkel announced in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster a "three-month moratorium" on her controversial decision last year to extend the lives of the plants.
Merkel had ordered safety checks on all reactors and set up two commissions – one on safety and another on ethics – to look at whether Germany had a nuclear future.
The coalition wants to keep the eight oldest of Germany's 17 nuclear reactors permanently shut. Seven were closed temporarily in March, just after the earthquake and tsunami hit Fukushima. One has been off the grid for years.
Another six will be taken offline by 2021.
The remaining three reactors, which are the newest in Germany's , will stay open for another year until 2022 as a safety buffer to ensure no disruption to power supply.
Before the suit down of some of the power plants Germany derived 22% of its power from nuclear plants.
The warning from four Energy providers that Germany could face widespread winter blackouts following what they describe as a "Knee jerk" decision by Merkel indicated that they were not happy.
Over the weekend, Merkel said the year 2022 was "the right space of time" to set as a goal for Germany's total withdrawal from nuclear power. Merkel did not herself commit to a firm date for nuclear decommissioning.
The timetable is too slow for some of Merkel's opponents. Claudia Roth, co-head of the national Green party, which beat the chancellor's CDU in elections in Bremen on Sunday, insists it would be feasible to close down all plants by 2017.
22% is a large chunk of Germany's power that needs filling. What powers that vacuum will be the interesting question.
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