Germany shuts down three of its six nuclear power plants

Germany on Friday closed half of the six nuclear plants still in operation, a year before the country opened the final curtain on its decades-long use of atomic energy.

The decision to phase out nuclear energy and switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy was first taken by the center-left government of Gerhard Schroeder in 2002.

His successor, Angela Merkel, has reversed her decision to extend the life of German nuclear plants in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan and set 2022 as a deadline for their closures.

The three reactors that are now closed were first commissioned in the mid-1980s. Together, they have provided electricity to millions of German homes for nearly four decades.

One station – Brokdorf, located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Hamburg on the Elbe River – became a particular focus of anti-nuclear protests fueled by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the Soviet Union.

The other two plants are Grohnde, about 40 kilometers south of Hanover, and Grundremmingen, 80 kilometers west of Munich.

Some in Germany have called for the decision to end nuclear power to be reconsidered because already operating power plants produce relatively little carbon dioxide. Advocates of atomic energy argue that it can help Germany achieve its greenhouse gas reduction goals.

But the German government said this week that shutting down all nuclear plants next year and then phasing out coal by 2030 would not affect the country’s energy security or its goal of making Europe’s largest economy “climate neutral” by 2045.

“By significantly increasing renewable energy and accelerating the expansion of the electricity grid, we can show that this is possible in Germany,” said Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck.

The remaining three nuclear plants – Emsland, Isar and Neckarwestheim – will be decommissioned by the end of 2022.


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