Germany Shutting Down Its Last 3 Nuclear Plants

Germany will be shutting down its remaining three nuclear power plants this weekend, with the government hoping that renewable energy will be able to compensate for the loss of nuclear power. The plants are scheduled to be shut down on Saturday, April 15. Two of the plants, Neckarwestheim 2 and Isar 2, are located in Southern Germany. The third one, Emsland Nuclear Power Station, is located in the state of Lower Saxony. Berlin has been looking to phase out nuclear power plants since 2002, with former Chancellor Angela Merkel speeding up the process in 2011 following Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster. The shutdowns come as Berlin is betting that it will be able to fulfill energy needs via renewable sources and make do without atomic power. However, many have questioned whether renewables will be able to meet the nation’s energy demands. To complicate matters, Germany also intends to shut down all its coal-fired plants beginning in 2030. Coal makes up a third of the country’s electricity production. Last year, coal consumption rose to compensate for the loss of Russian gas supplies. Chancellor Olaf Scholz has stated that Germany will have to install four to five wind turbines a day in the coming years to meet domestic energy demands—a tall task given that the country only installed less than two turbines per day last year. The country also needs to speed up the rate of installing solar power equipment. In 2022, the three nuclear plants accounted for six percent of Germany’s energy. In 1997, Germany generated 30.8 percent of its energy from its nuclear plants. Since 2003, 16 plants have been shut down. Public and Trade Opposition Initially, the closure of nuclear power plants was popular among the people. However, after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the supply of cheap gas flowing into Germany got disrupted, which triggered an energy crisis in the country. The three plants were originally scheduled to be turned off on Dec. 31, 2022. However, public opinion had already begun to turn. The government eventually set April 15 as the scheduled date of the shutdowns. The majority of public opinion is still against the closure. A survey conducted by the INSA polling institute for the local newspaper Bild am Sonntag found that 52 percent of respondents were against the shutdowns, with only 37 percent backing the decision. In an interview with local newspaper Rheinische Post, Peter Adrian, president of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), asked politicians to extend the runtime of the power plants. “Although natural gas prices have fallen recently, energy costs remain high for most businesses,” he said. “At the same time, we are not yet out of the woods when it comes to the security of energy supply.” A Mild Winter Saves Europe The Institute for Energy Research (IER) cited the example of Germany in a December 2022 analysis done to stress how the energy crisis was more of a homemade problem rather than a result of external causes. Germany’s wind power generation fell from 132.1 terawatt hours in 2020 to 117.7 terawatt hours in 2021, a decline of 24 percent. To make up for this, Germany boosted its coal power output by 21.1 percent last year. “Germany finds itself at the mercy of the weather, both for renewable energy production and the level of demand that may result from a cold winter. Conservation plans are already in place and energy rationing may result in the event of a long cold spell,” the analysis stated. A rather mild winter this time averted the continent, and especially Germany, from an extreme energy crisis. However, this cannot be guaranteed for the coming years. Europe has spent close to €800 billion in the past 17 months to combat its energy crisis, with Germany spending the most money to protect households and businesses from energy inflation. “Since the start of the energy crisis in September 2021, €792 billion ($846.6 billion) has been allocated and earmarked across European countries to shield consumers from the rising energy costs … The current increase in wholesale energy prices in Europe has prompted governments to put in place measures to shield consumers from the direct impact of rising prices,” a Feb. 13 analysis by Belgium-based economic think-tank Bruegel states. Germany made the highest allocation in the list, setting aside €268.1 billion to shield its energy consumers. Air Quality Effects Meanwhile, shutting down nuclear power plants could increase air pollution, according to a new study by a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The study looked at what would happen if all nuclear power plants in the United States were to shut down. If coal, gas, and oil sources were used to compensate for the lost nuclear power, air pollution would increase, resulting in serious health effects and an additional 5,200 deaths a year, the team found. Even if renewable energy were used to replace nuclear power, there would still be a slight inc

Germany Shutting Down Its Last 3 Nuclear Plants

Germany will be shutting down its remaining three nuclear power plants this weekend, with the government hoping that renewable energy will be able to compensate for the loss of nuclear power.

The plants are scheduled to be shut down on Saturday, April 15. Two of the plants, Neckarwestheim 2 and Isar 2, are located in Southern Germany. The third one, Emsland Nuclear Power Station, is located in the state of Lower Saxony. Berlin has been looking to phase out nuclear power plants since 2002, with former Chancellor Angela Merkel speeding up the process in 2011 following Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The shutdowns come as Berlin is betting that it will be able to fulfill energy needs via renewable sources and make do without atomic power. However, many have questioned whether renewables will be able to meet the nation’s energy demands.

To complicate matters, Germany also intends to shut down all its coal-fired plants beginning in 2030. Coal makes up a third of the country’s electricity production. Last year, coal consumption rose to compensate for the loss of Russian gas supplies.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has stated that Germany will have to install four to five wind turbines a day in the coming years to meet domestic energy demands—a tall task given that the country only installed less than two turbines per day last year. The country also needs to speed up the rate of installing solar power equipment.

In 2022, the three nuclear plants accounted for six percent of Germany’s energy. In 1997, Germany generated 30.8 percent of its energy from its nuclear plants. Since 2003, 16 plants have been shut down.

Public and Trade Opposition

Initially, the closure of nuclear power plants was popular among the people. However, after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the supply of cheap gas flowing into Germany got disrupted, which triggered an energy crisis in the country.

The three plants were originally scheduled to be turned off on Dec. 31, 2022. However, public opinion had already begun to turn. The government eventually set April 15 as the scheduled date of the shutdowns.

The majority of public opinion is still against the closure. A survey conducted by the INSA polling institute for the local newspaper Bild am Sonntag found that 52 percent of respondents were against the shutdowns, with only 37 percent backing the decision.

In an interview with local newspaper Rheinische Post, Peter Adrian, president of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), asked politicians to extend the runtime of the power plants.

“Although natural gas prices have fallen recently, energy costs remain high for most businesses,” he said. “At the same time, we are not yet out of the woods when it comes to the security of energy supply.”

A Mild Winter Saves Europe

The Institute for Energy Research (IER) cited the example of Germany in a December 2022 analysis done to stress how the energy crisis was more of a homemade problem rather than a result of external causes. Germany’s wind power generation fell from 132.1 terawatt hours in 2020 to 117.7 terawatt hours in 2021, a decline of 24 percent. To make up for this, Germany boosted its coal power output by 21.1 percent last year.

“Germany finds itself at the mercy of the weather, both for renewable energy production and the level of demand that may result from a cold winter. Conservation plans are already in place and energy rationing may result in the event of a long cold spell,” the analysis stated.

A rather mild winter this time averted the continent, and especially Germany, from an extreme energy crisis. However, this cannot be guaranteed for the coming years.

Europe has spent close to €800 billion in the past 17 months to combat its energy crisis, with Germany spending the most money to protect households and businesses from energy inflation.

“Since the start of the energy crisis in September 2021, €792 billion ($846.6 billion) has been allocated and earmarked across European countries to shield consumers from the rising energy costs … The current increase in wholesale energy prices in Europe has prompted governments to put in place measures to shield consumers from the direct impact of rising prices,” a Feb. 13 analysis by Belgium-based economic think-tank Bruegel states.

Germany made the highest allocation in the list, setting aside €268.1 billion to shield its energy consumers.

Air Quality Effects

Meanwhile, shutting down nuclear power plants could increase air pollution, according to a new study by a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The study looked at what would happen if all nuclear power plants in the United States were to shut down. If coal, gas, and oil sources were used to compensate for the lost nuclear power, air pollution would increase, resulting in serious health effects and an additional 5,200 deaths a year, the team found.

Even if renewable energy were used to replace nuclear power, there would still be a slight increase in air pollution in certain parts of the country, resulting in a possible 260 additional deaths a year.

“In the debate over keeping nuclear power plants open, air quality has not been a focus of that discussion,” said study author Noelle Selin, a professor in MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS) and EAPS, according to an April 10 press release.