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Germany’s green revolution puts nuclear power in the past

Renewed support for renewables and an end to nuclear power keep Germany on its carbon neutral path

By Linda Pentz Gunter 21 May 23

Germany is a country of sensible shoes. And, I might add, supremely comfortable ones. Germans do buttery leather as well as they do beer.

Germany’s energy policy is similarly sensible. Germans see no reason to choose the slowest, most expensive, most dangerous and decidedly non-renewable energy source with which to address the climate crisis. 

Consequently, Germany rejected nuclear power, and on Saturday April 15, it closed the last of its reactors. Germany, like its even more sensible neighbor, Austria — where nothing nuclear may even traverse its terrain — is now a nuclear-free country. Almost. The next step for the German anti-nuclear movement will be to close the URENCO uranium enrichment facility there and the Lingen fuel fabrication plant. And of course there remain nuclear weapons in Germany, not theirs, but ours.

While France continues to wobble along on its high-fashion nuclear stilettos, turning ankles and snapping off heels whenever the going gets rough, Germany will trudge on inexorably, and comfortably, to its stated goal of carbon neutral by 2045.

Germany also plans to end it coal use possibly as soon as 2030, but certainly by 2038. Although, you’d never know it, with all the alarmist hype in circulation post nuclear shutdown. The nuclear lobby, already in propaganda over-drive, has now gone supersonic in its efforts to persuade the world that Germany’s choice to close those last three reactors — never mind that their energy has already been replaced by renewables —will mean burning more coal.

The decision to prolong the operating time of its last three reactors until April 2023 (they were originally due to close at the end of 2022) was largely political, designed to appease rightwing voices within the governing alliance led by the Social Democrats. “We could, in fact, have already shut down the nuclear power plants by January 1 of this year without the lights going out,” said German economist, Claudia Kemfert. “The extension was more like a psychological comfort blanket, as we had an oversupply of electricity,” she told the Washington Post.

Germany didn’t need those last three reactors to keep its green revolution on track. And it especially didn’t need them through this winter, after rejecting the supply of gas from Russia in response to that country’s invasion of Ukraine. German heating is not electric. So nuclear power had no role to play in easing that situation. 

Meanwhile, power prices on the European Energy Exchange for the first quarter of 2024 were more than twice as high in France than in Germany. Much of this was due to loss of market confidence in French state energy company, EDF, to get sufficient numbers of their troubled nuclear reactors back on line to meet demand. 

This did not change after Germany’s last three reactors closed. As Bruno Burger of Energy Charts noted as a caption to the graphic below [ on original] : “The shutdown of the last three German nuclear power plants has no visible effect on weekly Future Electricity Prices in Germany.”

The nuclear power contribution to Germany’s energy mix has been steadily declining since the renewable energy boom, known as the Energiewende, was launched in 2000 with the Renewable Energy Act. A precondition of the Act’s passage was that as nuclear power was phased out it would be replaced by renewable energy and energy efficiency (although demand should have been brought down much faster, much further) and not by fossil fuels. 

In 2000, the renewables share in German electricity was just over 6%. The nuclear share was 30%. In just 23 years, those numbers have more than reversed, with today’s share of on- and off-shore wind plus solar at just over 46% and nuclear at 4.6% in the last week before the final reactor closures. Germany remains on track to achieve its carbon neutral goal by 2045.

The renewable energy boom was greatly helped by the implementation of a feed-in tariff that helped to create confidence and certainty for renewable energy investors who were guaranteed a fixed price for 20 years, above the standard market price. This spurred a big investment, not just by companies, farmers, and coops, but by individuals and many municipalities.

This led to local success stories such as Morbach, a small town about 92 miles west of Frankfurt that boasts 14 wind turbines, 4,000 square meters of solar panels and a biogas plant. Combined, these generate three times more electricity than the community of 11,000 people needs. They sell the surplus back to the grid.

Simply put, the nuclear phaseout opened the way for renewable energy growth in Germany and put the country on the path to a fossil fuel-free future as well.  Without the former, the latter would not have happened.

Critics who falsely ascribe Germany’s continued use of coal, including brown coal or lignite, to the nuclear phaseout, fail to understand that these upticks are driven by the export market and are not related to domestic consumption or the nuclear shutdown.

Ironically it is nuclear France, dependent on electric heat, that is partially responsible for the demand for German coal. This was especially so this past winter when the French nuclear sector all but collapsed with more than 50% of its nuclear capacity down due to serious safety issues combined with scheduled maintenance.

In contrast, in 2022, Germany succeeded in weaning itself off Russian gas entirely and supplying France with 15 billion kWh of electricity net.

Furthermore, Germany’s lignite and coal production remains well below earlier levels and Germany is legally committed to end coal use by 2038. The current government is working to advance this date to 2030. 

According to the 2022 World Nuclear Industry Status Report: “Lignite peaked in 2013 and then declined—especially in 2019–2020—before increasing again by 20.2 percent in 2021. However, lignite generation remained below the 2019-level and 25 percent below the 2010 level. 

“Hard coal also peaked in 2013 then dropped to 64 percent below the 2010-level. While it has seen, at 27.7 percent, the strongest increase in 2021 of any power generation technology, it also remains below the 2019 numbers. 

“Natural gas fluctuated since 2010 and peaked in 2020 at 2.6 percent above the 2010-level before dropping by 5.3 percent in 2021.”

In fact, Germany’s struggle to get off fossil fuels lies mainly in the transport rather than the electricity sector. The country’s love affair with the car and speed limit-free autobahns is a long engagement that now needs to be broken.  

Germany’s path to a carbon neutral economy is all about the trajectory, which is on track, despite bumps in the road. As always, it is about a political commitment rather than any technological challenges. If the current government sticks to its word to greatly accelerate renewable energy implementation, the Energiewende, by no means a perfect roadmap, will get itself back on track.

Mistakes were undoubtedly made. Even after then Chancellor Angela Merkel had her epiphany in 2011 in light of the Japan nuclear disaster at Fukushima, making an overnight decision to restore Germany on the path to nuclear shutdown, she subsequently made drastic cuts in solar subsidies, something environmentalists described as “nothing less than a solar phase-out law”.

But despite this, Germany remains one of the few Western countries that has demonstrated a consistent commitment both to a nuclear phaseout and to climate chaos abatement.

The German anti-nuclear movement is greatly to be credited with much of this progress. It has long been one of the most powerful and politically effective. Like the sensible shoes they march in, green advocates in Germany understood exactly what their fight was about and the significance of that final nuclear shutdown. I hope they are having a jolly good party. They deserve it. Then it will be back to vigilance over the Energiewende — and hopefully to removing US nuclear weapons from German soil and closing those uranium fuel fabrication plants. Because that is the kind of thing that only people power can get done.

“The German nuclear phase-out is a victory of reason over the lust for profit; over powerful corporations and their client politicians,” read a statement from Greenpeace. “It is a people-powered success against all the odds.”

Linda Pentz Gunter is the international specialist at Beyond Nuclear and writes for and curates Beyond Nuclear International.


May 22, 2023 Posted by | Germany, Reference, renewable | Leave a comment

Germany’s Nuclear Energy Phase-Out, Explained

NIRS, May 8, 2023

On April 15, 2023 utilities in Germany shut down the country’s three
last remaining nuclear power plants. These closures mark the successful
planned phase-out of German nuclear energy from the nation’s grid. What does this mean for Germany? What lessons should the U.S. take away from the
German energy transition?

Germany’s Energiewende (“energytransition”) is an overarching policy commitment to achieve a low-carbon, nuclear-free economy and transition to renewable energy. While the recently completed phase-out of nuclear power is a major milestone for Germany’s energy transition, it was by no means a perfect process nor is the current
energy system in Germany a perfect example to follow.

But, Germany’s transition shows that an energy policy grounded in environmental values works – and the earlier climate policy is implemented, the sooner the
climate policy goals can be realized. Above all, the German energy
transition shows the tremendous power of active citizenry, organized social
movements, and activism to transform policy and successfully demand change.


May 13, 2023 Posted by | ENERGY, Germany | 1 Comment

Chart of the day: Germany produces 40GW of solar for first time

Germany has passed through the 40GW mark for solar production for the first
time. The new benchmark was reached at 12.30pm local time on May 4. It
shows that solar output was more than six times bigger than any other
source at the time, and accounted for nearly two thirds of the total
64.6GW, of which around 1.3GW was being exported to other countries. Brown
coal generation was the second biggest at that time, followed by biomass
and onshore wind.

Renew Economy 5th May 2023

May 8, 2023 Posted by | Germany, renewable | Leave a comment

The Asse nuclear waste interim storage facility continues to cause controversy. Germany, By David Sadler  May 4, 2023

What to do with thousands of barrels of nuclear waste as long as there is no repository? This question concerns the federal government and the residents of Asse. The former mine is dilapidated and needs to be cleared. Environment Minister Lemke got an idea on site.

In the dispute over the Asse site in Lower Saxony as an interim storage facility for nuclear waste, the fronts remain hardened. The former salt dome is dilapidated and should be cleared in about ten years. Around 126,000 barrels of low- and medium-level radioactive nuclear waste are currently stored there. As long as there is no repository in Germany, they have to be stored temporarily. The plans of the responsible Federal Agency for Disposal (BGE) to look for a site near the Asse are met with resistance.

When Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke visited the site, several citizens’ initiatives called for the Green politician to give her authority. Lemke must instruct the BGE as the operator to finally arrange for the site comparison for an interim storage facility requested by environmental groups and residents, explained the Asse II coordination group. For years, the BGE has acted against the interests of people and the environment in the area around the dilapidated salt dome.

BGE wants intermediate transports avoid

“We say that the interim storage facility has to be close to where we collect and treat the waste,” replied BGE Managing Director Stefan Studt. It is important to avoid intermediate transports. From the point of view of the operating company, the location is suitable and, above all, can be approved, which Studt described as a “relevant standard”.

Lemke: conditions “absolutely unacceptable”

Environment Minister Lemke does not see a quick solution either. “I don’t have an alternative interim storage facility in my luggage,” she told the representatives of the citizens’ initiatives. But you have to ensure that this nuclear waste is taken out and stored as responsibly as possible – until it can go to a repository. “We will certainly continue this discussion,” she said. The nuclear waste in the former Asse mine was stored under conditions that were “absolutely unacceptable”.

Therefore, the German Bundestag decided to salvage the radioactive waste from the Asse as quickly as possible. A retrieval of the waste is planned and should start around 2033. The plan has long been the subject of strong criticism in the affected region and recently even led to a critical monitoring process ended became.

A challenge arises with the search for safe disposal of the nuclear waste.Problems due to the lack of a repository

“I’m really happy that we shut down the last three nuclear power plants in Germany on April 15 and were thus able to prevent even more highly radioactive waste from accumulating,” said the Greens politician. “I can tell you that this is not a matter of course, but that it has kept me busy in recent months.” In some cases, continued operation was demanded with great carelessness and the problems with the non-existent repository were completely ignored.

There is currently more than 120,000 cubic meters of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste in interim storage facilities throughout Germany. The garbage is, for example, parts of plants that have been contaminated, protective clothing, tools and equipment from nuclear power plants. According to the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BASE), this only accounts for one percent of the activity, but accounts for 95 percent of the total volume of radioactive waste.

In an even slower scenario, a repository could even not be found until 2068.billion cost after nuclear phase-out

Then there are the costs: A commission has estimated the total costs for decommissioning and dismantling of the reactors as well as the transport and storage of the waste at 48.8 billion euros. As a result, a fund was set up into which the operators of the nuclear power plants had to pay. The interim and final storage is to be paid for with this amount – however, it is still uncertain whether the sum will be sufficient.

Critics and some experts see the camps as a security risk. With the former iron ore mine Schacht Konrad in Salzgitter, a repository for low-level and intermediate-level radioactive waste has been identified, which is scheduled to go into operation in 2027. The search for a repository for high-level radioactive waste has so far been unsuccessful.

May 7, 2023 Posted by | Germany, wastes | Leave a comment

What now for Germany’s remaining nuclear waste?

Jens Thurau, 24 Apr 23

Germany has shut down its last nuclear power stations. But the issue isn’t going anywhere, as the country faces the question of what to do with its remaining nuclear waste.

Nuclear energy in Germany has been history since mid-April. At one time, up to 20 nuclear power plants fed electricity into the German grid. But all that is over now. The last three nuclear power plants ended their operations on April 15.

To Germany’s environment minister Steffi Lemke of the Green Party, the date marks a new dawn: “I think we should now put all our energy into pushing forward photovoltaics, wind power storage, energy saving, and energy efficiency, and stop these backward-looking debates,” she said in a recent radio interview.

April 15 also effectively ended a decades-long political dispute in Germany. In light of the tense situation on the energy market due to Russia’s war in Ukraine, there are still voices demanding that nuclear power be extended

The waste issue

And yet, the issue of nuclear energy will linger for Germany for some time yet, as the reactors still have to be dismantled, and the final disposal of the radioactive nuclear waste has not yet been clarified.

Like almost all other countries that have operated, or continue to operate nuclear power plants, Germany has yet to find a place to safely store the spent fuel. Currently, Germany’s nuclear waste is in interim storage at the sites of abandoned power plants, but the law requires that nuclear waste be safely stored in underground repositories for several millennia.

“The interim storage facilities are designed to last for quite some time,” Wolfram König, president of the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Disposal (BASE), told DW. “They are supposed to bridge the time until a final repository is available. … What we are looking for is geological depth, a suitable layer of salt, in granite or in clay rock, which will ensure that no radioactive substances reach the surface again for an indefinitely long period of time.”

Location, location, location

That’s a principle that Germany shares with all of the 30 or so countries that still operate, or have operated nuclear power plants in the past: Radioactive waste is to be disposed of underground. But where exactly? For a long time, Gorleben, located in the Wendland region of Lower Saxony, northeastern Germany, was the site most favored by politicians looking for an underground repository for nuclear waste.

But Gorleben became the location of fierce protests against nuclear energy, so politicians decided a few years ago to abandon the site. Now, the search is on throughout Germany, with more than 90 possible sites under consideration. “We can and must assume that the search process in Germany, with the construction of a final repository, will take approximately as long as we have used nuclear energy, namely 60 years,” König said.

Meanwhile, the dismantling of Germany’s 20 or so nuclear power plants that have been built will also take time. That, according to König, is the responsibility of their operators, who estimate it could take between 10 and 15 years.

A worldwide headache

So far, reactors have been shut down in Italy, Kazakhstan, and Lithuania, while other countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Belarus, are building new nuclear plants.

But the permanent, safe storage of radioactive waste is an unresolved issue everywhere.

Finland is furthest along in its planning. In a report by German public broadcaster ARD, Vesa Lakaniemi, administrative head in the municipality of Eurajoki, southern Finland, talked about the construction of the final storage facility for nuclear waste in his town: “Whoever profits from electricity must also take responsibility for the waste. And that’s how it is in Finland.” The estimated construction costs for the Eurajoki repository is €3.5 billion ($3.8 billion).

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), there are currently 422 nuclear reactors in operation worldwide, with an average age of about 31 years. The recent “World Nuclear Industry Status Report” said that, despite a few countries building new nuclear power stations, there was no evidence of a “nuclear renaissance.” In 1996, some 17.5% of the world’s energy was produced in nuclear reactors — in 2021 it was below 10%. Nevertheless, the radioactive legacy will keep Germany preoccupied for many years to come.

April 26, 2023 Posted by | Germany, wastes | Leave a comment

Earth Day 2023: A Newly Post-Nuclear Germany vs. California’s Reactor Relapse

Germany’s initiative calls out California’s backpedaling.


This year’s Earth Day marks a massive green energy triumph in Germany that stands in stark contrast to a bitter nuclear challenge in California.

A wide range of estimates put the two regions at a virtual tie for the world’s fourth and fifth-largest economies.

They also share a leading growth industry—renewable energy, with unprecedented investments in wind, solar, batteries, and efficiency. 

But when it comes to atomic power, they are headed in very different directions.

On April 15, Germany claimed a huge global landmark by becoming one of the world’s wealthiest nations to renounce atomic power.  

The decision dates back to 2011, when Germany’s powerful Green movement led a national demonstration aiming to shut the seventeen atomic reactors that, at the time, provided around a quarter of the nation’s electricity.

Before the rally took place, four reactors blew up in Fukushima, Japan, sending huge clouds of radioactive fallout into the air and ocean.

Germany’s then-Chancellor Angela Merkel—who has a Ph.D. in quantum chemistry—ordered eight reactors immediately shut, and soon announced a plan to shut the remaining nine by December 31, 2022.

This energiewende, or “energy transition,” substitutes wind, solar, battery storage, and increased efficiency for nuclear power reactors, moving Germany toward full reliance on renewables. Germany, since then, has invested billions  in the renewables sector, transitioning whole towns  to locally-owned rooftop solar and corporate wind power pumped in from large turbines in the North Sea.

The shutdown of the final three reactors was delayed by nearly four months due to natural gas shortages caused by the Russian war in Ukraine. 

It was also complicated by a major atomic breakdown in neighboring France.  Heavily reliant on nuclear power, France’s more than fifty standard-design reactors succumbed to a wide range of problems, including generic structural flaws and warming rivers too hot to cool their super-heated radioactive cores. In 2022, with more than half its fleet of reactors under repair, France made up for the energy shortfall by importing power  from Germany, much of it fired by the burning of coal. 

This prompted the nuclear industry to criticize Germany’s plan by pointing to a rise in the country’s CO2 emissions from burning increased quantities of coal, failing to note that much of that power was being exported to France to compensate for its own shuttered reactors.

California, whose economy may now be slightly larger than Germany’s, has taken an opposite route.

Two of its last four reactors—at San Onofre, between Los Angeles and San Diego—were shuttered in 2012 and closed permanently in 2013 after flaws were found in the turbines and other components.

In 2016, a deal was reached to shut the Golden State’s last two reactors, located at Diablo Canyon, nine miles west of San Luis Obispo. In the 1970s and 1980s, thousands of protestors were arrested at Diablo Canyon, more than at any other American nuclear plant. 

The 2016 shutdown deal involved another energiewende, based on blueprints to replace Diablo’s power with a huge influx of new wind, solar, battery, and efficiency installations. The agreement was approved by the California state legislature, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the state Public Utilities Commission. It was signed by then-Governor Jerry Brown, then-Lieutenant-Governor Gavin Newsom, and a wide range of local governments, unions, and environmental groups, all of whom assumed the state would thus be nuke-free once Unit Two was shut in 2025—the date its original forty-year license would expire.

But along the way, the state experienced two close calls with partial blackouts.  During both incidents, Newsom, now the governor, asked consumers to dial back their energy use. Ironically, independent battery capacity—mostly controlled by individual owners—helped the state stay lit. 

But Newsom reversed course and now argues that California must keep Diablo open. Infuriating the national safe energy movement, Newsom rammed through the legislature a $1.4 billion midnight bailout for PG&E, to be funded by all of the state’s consumers, including many who live hundreds of miles from the plant, and receive no energy from it at all.

The Biden Administration also kicked in $1.1 billion, money that safe energy advocates angrily argue would be far better spent on renewables.

In 2019 a statewide petition signed by Hollywood’s Jane Fonda, Martin Sheen, Lily Tomlin, Eric Roberts, and some 2,500 other Californians demanded that Newsom facilitate an independent inspection. Nearing forty years of age, both Diablo reactors suffer a wide range of structural and age-related defects. 

They are also surrounded by at least a dozen known earthquake faults, sitting just forty-five miles from the infamous San Andreas fault. Former NRC site inspector Michael Peck, who was stationed at Diablo for five years, has warned it might not survive a major earthquake, for which its owner, PG&E, has little or no private insurance. The state has never made public any plans to evacuate Los Angeles or other heavily populated areas in the event of an accident.

Newsom has also supported moves by state regulators to severely slash compensation paid by utilities to solar panel owners who feed their excess energy into the grid. While 1,500 workers are stationed at Diablo, some 70,000 work in the state’s solar industry, which angrily charges that Newsom’s pro-nuclear, anti-green positions are crippling the state’s top job creator.

Indeed,  the irony of these twin economies heading in opposite energy directions is hard to ignore. In the 1970s, much of America’s early anti-nuclear movement was inspired by mass demonstrations led by German Greens (with the slogan “Atomkraft? Nein, danke!”). Both movements succeeded in massively moving their communities toward a renewable future.

But at this critical moment, Germany appears to be moving beyond nuclear power, while California clings to a hugely controversial technology it had once planned to transcend.

April 24, 2023 Posted by | ENERGY, Germany | Leave a comment

Germany okays Ukrainian strikes on Russian soil

21 Apr 23,

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has argued that such attacks are “fully normal” as long as the civilian population is not affected.

Ukraine has every right to conduct strikes and other military operations on Russian territory, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has argued. He noted, however, that civilians should not be hurt in the process.

Ukraine has regularly shelled several Russian border regions ever since Moscow launched its military campaign last February. Dozens of civilians have lost their lives as a result, with many more injured.

Appearing on Germany’s ZDF TV channel on Thursday, Pistorius said that it is “fully normal” that the “attacked [party] also moves into enemy territory, for instance to cut supply routes.

So long as cities, civilians, civilian areas are not attacked, you will unavoidably have to accept this,” the minister clarified.

However, Pistorius said that the West should not simply automatically rubber-stamp any weapons request by Kiev.

If Ukraine asks for certain types of bombs that are outlawed globally, then we must say no,” the minister stressed.

Speaking about Kiev’s chances of joining NATO, the German official said that “this is now not the time to decide this.” Ukraine and NATO should for the time being prioritize “repelling this attack,” Pistorius insisted. Should these efforts prove successful, the US-led military bloc will have to “carefully weigh” this step, the minister said.

Pistorius went on to point out that NATO cannot admit Ukraine into its ranks purely “out of solidarity,” but should rather “decide with a cold head and hot heart, and not the other way round.

Russian border regions – particularly those of Belgorod, Kursk and Bryansk – have repeatedly come under Ukrainian attacks over the past year. Kiev’s forces have used explosive-laden drones, mortars, artillery, and missiles in these strikes.

The toll taken on Belgorod Region in particular has been significant. Earlier this week, the region’s governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, revealed that a total of thirty civilians in his region have been killed in Ukrainian attacks since February 2022, with 123 more people sustaining injuries. More than 3,000 homes have also been either destroyed or damaged, the official said. Dozens of schools and power facilities have also been hit.

Furthermore, the Donetsk People’s Republic, which joined Russia after a referendum last fall, has been subjected to regular shelling by the Ukrainian military since 2014. The attacks appear to be largely indiscriminate, with scores of civilians having lost their lives as result.

April 23, 2023 Posted by | Germany, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Germany and Finland: Two sides of the nuclear power coin in Europe

What we see in Germany is a measured but speedier version of a European trend: the decline of the nuclear industry,”

“It’s a progressive closure — the replacement rate is insufficient for nuclear energy to survive.”

The shutdown of the remaining German reactors coincides with the startup of a new reactor on the Finnish coast

IGNACIO FARIZA. El Pais, Madrid – APR 19, 2023 

As chance would have it, the shutdown of the Germany’s remaining nuclear reactors coincided exactly with the opening of a new one in Finland, the first in over 15 years in the European Union (EU). Both countries are highly vulnerable to the vagaries of Russian energy sources, but represent two opposing European visions of the always controversial nuclear energy.

The timing could not have been more incongruous. Almost 12 years after Angela Merkel’s administration decided to abandon nuclear power following the Fukushima (Japan) disaster, three plants were disconnected from the grid and mothballed: Isar 2 (Bavaria); Neckarwestheim 2 (Baden-Württemberg); and Emsland (Lower Saxony). A few hours later, in the early hours of the morning, the largest reactor in Europe was inaugurated 1,000 miles to the north. After almost 15 years of construction and many cost overruns, the Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant started producing 1.6 gigawatts (GW) of electricity, about one seventh of Finland’s total electricity demand.

The start-up of the Finnish reactor was a rocky road: it was first scheduled to be completed in 2009 and cost $12 billion, three times more than the original estimate. With Finnish conservatives holding a firm grip on power, more nuclear power projects are expected. Petteri Orpo, the front-runner in the prime minister race, often says in campaign speeches that nuclear power should be “the cornerstone of Finnish energy policy.”

The brutal energy shock aggravated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine has recently rekindled the debate about the role of nuclear power in Europe. Germany delayed the closure of its reactors by four months amid the energy crisis, and several political parties (including Merkel’s center-right CDU party) have reversed their original positions. The International Energy Agency (the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s energy arm) has emerged as a leading advocate for nuclear reactors in a context increasingly dominated by renewable energy. A report by the International Energy Agency last summer noted the growing momentum for nuclear energy in many countries given rising fuel prices and growing concerns about stable energy supplies……………….

Although wind and photovoltaic energy are gaining traction in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy and most populous country, fossil fuels will have to fill some of the gap left by the nuclear plant shutdowns (6% of Germany’s electricity in 2022). Highly polluting coal plants still produce a third of the country’s electricity but will have to close by 2038……………………….

Consultant and environmentalist Mycle Schneider, author of one of the most comprehensive annual report on the global state of nuclear power, doesn’t see it that way. “What we see in Germany is a measured but speedier version of a European trend: the decline of the nuclear industry,” he told EL PAÍS in an e-mail. “It’s a progressive closure — the renewal rate is insufficient for nuclear energy to survive.”

Schneider, a German expert based in Paris, says in the last 30 years EU countries have connected 16 new reactors, closed 47 and started construction on only two: Flamanville 3 (in France) and Olkiluoto 3. “Since the construction of these facilities began, the cost of solar [photovoltaic] energy has plunged by 90% and wind power by 70%. It’s simply impossible for a nuclear plant to compete with those low costs,” he said. Over the same period, the EU has added 157 GW of solar energy capacity, wind has added 175 GW, and nuclear has accounted for a 24 GW loss in capacity.

Paris and Berlin dominate the debate

Apart from the diverging paths of Berlin and Helsinki, the nuclear energy debate is still dominated by the two major continental powers: Germany, which has the unwavering support of Spain and Austria, and France, supported by several Eastern European countries.

Broad swaths of German society vehemently oppose nuclear energy, unlike French society and its government. France depends highly on nuclear energy, even during 2022 when a plague of technical issues caused shutdowns of many power plants. 60% of France’s electricity is nuclear, perhaps because prior to its 2016 corporate restructuring, Areva — a global power in nuclear plant construction — was majority-owned by the French state. Areva was the lead engineering firm for Olkiluoto 3. However, the future of nuclear energy will not be driven by France, Germany or the EU, says Zurita, but by “China, India, South Korea and the other emerging countries” that are growing so rapidly.

April 21, 2023 Posted by | Finland, Germany, politics | Leave a comment

As Germany ends nuclear era, activist says there is still more to do

By Riham Alkousaa 13 Apr 23

  • Germany is closing its last three reactors on Saturday
  • Smital says protest against nuclear power is not over
  • Cites fuel assembly, enrichment facilities still operating
  • Anti-nuclear movement helped spawn Germany’s Greens

BERLIN, April 15 (Reuters) – Heinz Smital was a 24-year-old nuclear physics researcher when he first saw how far nuclear contamination could spread after the Chornobyl disaster in 1986.

A few days after it occurred he waved a damp cloth out of a window at the University of Vienna to sample the city’s air and was shocked by how many radionuclides could be seen under a microscope.

“Technetium, Cobalt, Cesium 134, Cesium 137 …Chornobyl was 1,000 kilometres away … That made an impression,” Smital, now 61, said as he told Reuters about his life-long activism against nuclear power in Germany.

On Saturday Germany will shut off its last three reactors, ending six decades of nuclear power which helped spawn one of Europe’s strongest protest movements and the political party that governs Berlin today, the Greens.

“I can look back on a great many successes where I saw injustice and many years later, there was a breakthrough,” Smital said, showing a photo of himself in 1990s in front of the Unterweser Nuclear Power Plant, which was closed in 2011 following the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

Former Chancellor Angela Merkel responded to Fukushima by doing what no other Western leader had done, passing a law to exit nuclear by 2022.

An estimated 50,000 protesters in Germany formed a 45-kilometre long (27-mile) human chain after the Fukushima disaster from Stuttgart to the Neckarwestheim Nuclear Power Plant. Merkel would announce Germany’s planned nuclear exit within weeks.

“We really stood hand in hand at a certain point in time. I was also in the chain … It was impressive how that formed,” Smital said.

“That was a great feeling of a movement and also of belonging …a very nice, communal, exciting feeling that also develops a power,” Smital said.

One of the long-running movement’s early successes came in the 1970s when it managed to get plans for a nuclear plant in Wyhl in western Germany overturned.


In parallel, a divided Germany during the Cold War also saw a peace movement evolve amid concerns among Germans that their land could become a battlefield between the two camps.

“This produced a strong peace movement and the two movements reinforced each other,” said Nicolas Wendler, a spokesperson for Germany’s nuclear technology industry group KernD.

Moving from street protests to organised political work with the establishment of the Greens party in 1980 gave the movement more power.

It was a Greens-coalition government that introduced the country’s first nuclear phase-out law in 2002.

The nuclear phase-out is a Greens project … and all parties have practically adopted it,” said Rainer Klute, head of pro-nuclear non-profit association Nuklearia.

On Saturday, both Smital and Klute stood as protesters at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, one celebrating the end of nuclear power, the other lamenting its demise.

“We have no other choice but to accept the phase-out for the time being,” Klute said.

Yet for Smital, the reactor closures do not mean the end of his activism.

“We have a uranium fuel assemblies factory in Germany … we have uranium enrichment, so there is still a lot that needs to be discussed here and I will be on the street a lot …very gladly,” he said.

Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; editing by Jason Neely

April 20, 2023 Posted by | Germany, opposition to nuclear, politics | Leave a comment

Germany’s last nukes shut down — Beyond Nuclear

As planned, Germany closed the last of its three operational reactors on April 15. These were kept running beyond their original December 2022 shutdown dates, largely as a political concession to conservative minority partners within the German government, as their electricity was not actually needed. The German winter energy crunch was related to a cutoff of gas imports from Russia, needed for heating. Since German heating is not electric, nuclear power had no role to play in easing that situation.

Amidst all the false propaganda in circulation that the German nuclear shutdown has caused a rise in coal use in Germany, it’s important to note an important historical fact that is the genesis for the German green energy revolution — known in Germany as the Energiewende.

Germany’s last nukes shut down — Beyond Nuclear

The Renewable Energy Act of 2000 stipulated as a pre-condition, that if nuclear power plants were to be shut down, these would be replaced by renewable energy and not by fossil fuels. And by creating a favorable and reliable investment environment for renewables, this is exactly what happened. Given its starting point in 2000, the growth of renewables has been stratospheric and Germany is well on target for its 2045 carbon-neutral goal. It also plans to phase out all coal use by 2038 at the latest and possibly by 2030. Moreover, while the nuclear share of Germany’s electricity market in 2000 was around 30%, today it is less than 6%.

Recent slight increases in brown coal (lignite) production in Germany were not for domestic consumption but market driven and, ironically, to meet winter electricity needs in nuclear France, which saw more than half of its not-so-reliable nuclear power fleet go down. More information about why Germany’s Energiewende is working, can be found in the 5th edition of our Talking Points. (Headline photo: Jakob Huber/Wikimedia Commons)

April 19, 2023 Posted by | Germany, politics | Leave a comment

German nuclear phaseout – a victory of reason over the lust for profit

Millions of people worked towards this day for years. People who protested
against reprocessing plants, nuclear waste transport, unsafe nuclear waste
storage facilities and the construction of new nuclear power plants.

Those decades of resistance were worth it. The German nuclear phase-out is a
victory of reason over the lust for profit; over powerful corporations and
their client politicians.

It is a people-powered success against all the
odds. I thank all the brave people who took risks for their beliefs;
everyone who took part in demonstrations; all the people who signed
petitions and sent letters of protest. And I’m proud of the role Greenpeace
has played in opposing high-risk nuclear technology.

Greenpeace 15th April 2023

April 18, 2023 Posted by | Germany, politics | Leave a comment

German protests against Framatome’s nuclear fuel production in Lingen.

Stratera Media Group 25 Apr 23

Shortly before the shutdown of the Emsland nuclear power plant, anti-nuclear activists in Lingen held a protest for the final rejection of nuclear power in Germany. At noon on Saturday, opponents of nuclear power gathered in front of the ANF fuel cell plant, which is owned by the French Framatome group. A representative of the AgiEL – AtomkraftgegnerInnen im Emsland alliance spoke about about 300 demonstrators gathered. A police official gave a preliminary estimate of about 100 participants………………..

The protest of opponents of nuclear energy is held under the motto: “Anyone who talks about abandoning nuclear power should also close the fuel cell production plant!” A joint venture between Framatome and the Russian state-owned Rosatom, which wants to produce fuel rods for Eastern European nuclear power plants in Lingen, was recently criticized. The relevant application is currently being reviewed by the Lower Saxony Nuclear Supervision Authority.

“Such cooperation is scandalous and politically irresponsible,” Susanna Gerstner, chairman of the Bundestag of Germany (Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland, BUND) from the state of Lower Saxony, said in a statement. “We urgently call on the responsible Minister of Environment and Energy, Christian Mayer, to reject the current application of the operating company to expand production!” According to her, the federal and state governments should commit to a consistent phase-out of nuclear power, which also includes shutting down the Lingen fuel cell plant.

The fuel cell plant’s operator, ANF, has rejected calls for the plant to close. “Framatome Advanced Nuclear Fuels (ANF) has an unlimited operating license. The plant has been producing fuel elements with a high level of safety for more than 45 years and always complies with all legal requirements and procedures, ” the company explained to Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

April 17, 2023 Posted by | Germany, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

A new era’: Germany quits nuclear power, closing its final three plants

“There will be a moment of decision as to whether nuclear really has a future”

By Laura Paddison, Nadine Schmidt and Inke Kappeler, CNN, 15 Apr 23

Germany’s final three nuclear power plants close their doors on Saturday, marking the end of the country’s nuclear era that has spanned more than six decades.

Nuclear power has long been contentious in Germany.

There are those who want to end reliance on a technology they view as unsustainable, dangerous and a distraction from speeding up renewable energy.

But for others, closing down nuclear plants is short-sighted. They see it as turning off the tap on a reliable source of low-carbon energy at a time when drastic cuts to planet-heating pollution are needed.

Even as these debates rumble on, and despite last-minute calls to keep the plants online amid an energy crisis, the German government has been steadfast.

“The position of the German government is clear: nuclear power is not green. Nor is it sustainable,” Steffi Lemke, Germany’s Federal Minister for the Environment and Consumer Protection and a Green Party member, told CNN.

“We are embarking on a new era of energy production,” she said.

A plan decades in the making

The closure of the three plants – Emsland, Isar 2 and Neckarwestheim – represents the culmination of a plan set in motion more than 20 years ago. But its roots are even older.

In the 1970s, a strong anti-nuclear movement in Germany emerged. Disparate groups came together to protest 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.

Nuclear accidents fueled the opposition: The partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania in 1979 and the 1986 catastrophe at Chernobyl that created a cloud of radioactive waste which reached parts of Germany.

In 2000, the German government pledged to phase out nuclear power and start shutting down plants. But when a new government came to power in 2009, it seemed – briefly – as if nuclear would get a reprieve as a bridging technology to help the country move to renewable energy.

Then Fukushima happened.

In March 2011, an earthquake and tsunami caused three reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant to melt down. For many in Germany, Japan’s worst nuclear disaster was confirmation “that assurances that a nuclear accident of a large scale can’t happen are not credible,” Miranda Schreurs, professor of environment and climate policy at the Technical University of Munich, told CNN.

Three days later then-Chancellor Angela Merkel – a physicist who was previously pro-nuclear – made a speech called it an “inconceivable catastrophe for Japan” and a “turning point” for the world. She announced Germany would accelerate a nuclear phase-out, with older plants shuttered immediately.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, however, provided another plot twist.

Fearful of its energy security without Russian gas, the German government delayed its plan to close the final three plants in December 2022. Some urged a rethink.

But the government declined, agreeing to keep them running only until April 15.

For those in the anti-nuclear movement, it’s a moment of victory.

“It is a great achievement for millions of people who have been protesting nuclear in Germany and worldwide for decades,” Paul-Marie Manière, a spokesperson for Greenpeace, told CNN

A polarizing energy

For critics of Germany’s policy, however, it’s irrational to turn off a low-carbon source of energy as the impacts of the climate crisis intensify……………………………………………………………….

……………………………………………………..supporters of the nuclear shutdown argue it will ultimately hasten the end of fossil fuels.

Germany has pledged to close its last coal-fired power station no later than 2038, with a 2030 deadline in some areas. It’s aiming for 80% of electricity to come from renewables by the end of this decade.

While more coal was added in the months following Fukushima, Schreurs said, nuclear shutdowns have seen a big push on clean energy. “That urgency and demand can be what it takes to push forward on the growth of renewables,” she said.

Representatives for Germany’s renewable energy industry said the shutdown will open the door for more investment into clean energy……….

Representatives for Germany’s renewable energy industry said the shutdown will open the door for more investment into clean energy.

“Germany’s phase-out of nuclear power is a historic event and an overdue step in energy terms,” Simone Peter, president of the German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE), told CNN. “It is high time that we leave the nuclear age behind and consistently organize the renewable age.”

The impacts of nuclear power shouldn’t be overlooked either, Schreurs said, pointing to the carbon pollution created by uranium mining as well as the risk of health complications for miners. Plus, it creates a dependency on Russia, which supplies uranium for nuclear plants, she added.

Nuclear has also shown itself to have vulnerabilities to the climate crisis. France was forced to reduce nuclear power generation last year as the rivers used to cool reactors became too hot during Europe’s blistering heatwave.

A million-year problem

Now Germany must work out what do with the deadly, high-level radioactive waste, which can remain dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years.

Currently, the nuclear waste is kept in interim storage next to the nuclear plants being decommissioned. But the search is on to find a permanent location where the waste can be stored safely for a million years.

The site needs to be deep – hundreds of meters underground. Only certain types of rock will do: Crystalline granite, rock salt or clay rock. It must be geologically stable with no risks of earthquakes or signs of underground rivers.

The process is likely to be fraught, complex and breathtakingly long – potentially lasting more than 100 years.

BGE, the Federal Company for Radioactive Waste Disposal, estimates a final site won’t be chosen until between 2046 and 2064. After that, it will take decades more to build the repository, fill it with the waste and seal it.

What are other countries doing?

Plenty of other countries are treading paths similar to Germany’s. Denmark passed a resolution in the 1980s not to construct nuclear power plants, Switzerland voted in 2017 to phase out nuclear power, Italy closed its last reactors in 1990 and Austria’s one nuclear plant has never been used.

But, in the context of the war in Ukraine, soaring energy prices and pressure to reduce carbon pollution, others still want nuclear in the mix.

The UK, in the process of building a nuclear power plant, said in its recent climate strategy that energy nuclear power has a “crucial” role in “creating secure, affordable and clean energy.”

France, which gets about 70% of its power from nuclear, is planning six new reactors, and Finland opened a new nuclear plant last year. Even Japan, still dealing with the aftermath of Fukushima, is considering restarting reactors.

The US, the world’s biggest nuclear power, is also investing in nuclear energy and, in March, started up a new nuclear reactor, Vogtle 3 in Georgia – the first in years.

But experts suggest this doesn’t mark the start of a nuclear ramp up. Vogtle 3 came online six years late and at a cost of $30 billion, twice the initial budget.

It encapsulates the big problem that afflicts the whole nuclear industry: making the economics add up. New plants are expensive and can take more than a decade to build. “Even the countries that are talking pro-nuclear are having big trouble developing nuclear power,” Schreurs said.

Many nuclear power plants in Europe, the US and elsewhere are aging – plants have an operating life of around 40 to 60 years. As Germany puts an end to its nuclear era, it’s coming up to crunch time for others, Schreurs said.

“There will be a moment of decision as to whether nuclear really has a future”

CNN’s Chris Stern contributed reporting.

April 16, 2023 Posted by | Germany, politics | 1 Comment

German government rejects new call to delay nuclear shutdown

The German government has dismissed calls for a last-minute delay in shutting down the country’s last three nuclear power plants this weekend

By FRANK JORDANS – Associated Press, Apr 12, 2023

BONN, Germany (AP) — The German government dismissed calls Wednesday for a last-minute delay in shutting down the country’s last three nuclear power plants this weekend.

Opposition politicians and even some members of the Free Democrats, a libertarian party that’s part of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s governing alliance, have demanded a reprieve for the remaining reactors, which were already operating without requisite safety checks.

“The nuclear phase-out by April 15, that’s this Saturday, is a done deal,” Scholz spokesperson Christiane Hoffmann said.

Successive German governments planned a phase-out of nuclear power. The last three plants originally were scheduled to shut down on Dec. 31, 2022. Scholz ordered a postponement last year amid concerns that Germany might face an energy shortage due to the war in Ukraine.

Lawmakers approved the extension on the condition the plants, which began operation more than 30 years ago, would cease operating by mid-April of this year……………..

[Keeping the reactors going] would be both illegal and costly, according to Environment Ministry spokesperson Bastian Zimmermann. The ministry oversees nuclear safety in Germany.

Zimmermann said the three reactors — Emsland, Neckarwestheim and Isar II — last underwent safety checks in 2009 and such inspections normally need to occur every 10 years. The requirement was only suspended due to the shutdown planned for the end of 2022, he said.

Any further lifetime extension for the plants would require comprehensive and lengthy security checks again, Zimmermann said.

The country is still searching for a location to permanently store almost 2,000 containers of highly radioactive waste for thousands of generations.

The Economy Ministry dismissed concerns that Germany won’t be able to meet its energy needs without the nuclear power plants, which currently produce about 5% of the country’s electricity.

Ministry spokesperson Beate Baron said recent studies showed Germany would be able to maintain its power supply with coal and gas-fired power plants and renewables such as wind and solar, while remaining a net exporter of electricity.

Baron said the government wants to phase in the use of hydrogen that can be produced without greenhouse gas emissions and fired up quickly on days when there’s little sun or wind for renewables.

April 13, 2023 Posted by | Germany, politics | Leave a comment

April 15, Germany’s Greenpeace to celebrate nuclear phaseout

After decades of hard work by many courageous people, Germany is phasing
out nuclear power. So that this success can finally become reality, we want
to demonstrate with you in Munich. Ever since Greenpeace Germany was
founded in 1980, we have been fighting against the military and civilian
use of dangerous nuclear power, for example in Wackersdorf, Gorleben and

Also under pressure from the anti-nuclear movement, the then
existing coalition of SPD and Greens decided in 2002 to take a first step
towards phasing out nuclear power. They agreed with the power plant
operators that a certain amount of electricity may still be generated
before the reactors have to be shut down. A specific expiration date has
not been set. The final exit was decided in the summer of 2011 by the then
government consisting of CDU/CSU and FDP. The reactor catastrophe in
Fukushima had occurred shortly before.

Greenpeace Germany 3rd April 2023

On April 15, Germany is finally due to phase out nuclear power. But the FDP
and the Union keep demanding that the nuclear reactors should continue to
run. We are currently assuming that the nuclear phase-out will last. We
invite you to three central demonstrations and shutdown parties on April

Bund 27th March 2023

April 13, 2023 Posted by | Germany, politics | Leave a comment