Germany Is Shutting Down Half Of Its Remaining Nuclear Reactors In Favour Of Renewable Energy

Germany will shut down three of its six remaining nuclear power plants on Friday as it transitions away from nuclear power and toward renewable energy.

On December 31st, the 1,410-MW Brokdorf unit in Schleswig-Holstein, the 1,360-MW Grohnde unit in Lower Saxony, and the 1,288-MW Gundremmingen C unit in Bavaria will be permanently deactivated. In Germany, three nuclear reactors will remain operational: the 1,335-MW Emsland unit in Lower Saxony, the 1,410-MW Isar 2 unit in Bavaria, and the 1,310-MW Neckarwestheim 2 unit in Baden-Württemberg. 

Germany’s nuclear phase-out has been scheduled for more than a decade. Angela Merkel, Germany’s then-Chancellor, publicly backed the plan in May 2011. Merkel had previously supported nuclear power, but with the Fukushima accident, her opinion shifted. The decision to phase out nuclear power accelerated the country’s energy transition.

Prior to the tragedy, nuclear power provided around 23% of Germany’s electricity demands. In August 2011, eight of Germany’s 17 reactors that were active at the start of 2011 officially retired. The majority of them were established in the late 1970s and were never restarted after being put offline after the unfortunate events in Japan.

Germany’s six nuclear power plants supplied 12% of the country’s electrical generation, with renewable energy accounting for 41%, coal accounting for 28%, and gas accounting for 15%.

The remaining three operational nuclear facilities, Isar 2, Emsland, and Neckarwestheim II, are set to close by the end of 2022.

The German government set lofty climate objectives earlier this year to assist the country in obtaining carbon neutrality by 2045. In an interview last week, German Economy and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck stated that the government intends to raise the number of wind turbines by 1,000-1,500 per year.

However, Habeck predicts that Germany will most likely miss its 2022 carbon emission reduction target. “Even for 2023, it will be difficult enough. We are starting with a drastic backlog,” he said.

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