Germany’s coalition government has announced a reversal of policy that will see all the country’s nuclear power plants phased out by 2022.
The decision makes Germany the biggest industrial power to announce plans to give up nuclear energy.
Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen made the announcement after Chancellor Angela Merkel set up a panel to review nuclear power following the crisis at Fukushima in Japan, reports the BBC.
Roettgen said the seven oldest reactors – which were taken offline for a safety review immediately after the Japanese crisis – would never be used again. An eighth plant – the Kruemmel facility in northern Germany, which was already offline and has been plagued by technical problems, would also be shut down for good.
Six others would go offline by 2021 at the latest and the three newest by 2022, he said. Roettgen said: “It’s definite. The latest end for the last three nuclear power plants is 2022. There will be no clause for revision.”
Roettgen said a tax on spent fuel rods, expected to raise 2.3bn euros (£1.9bn) a year from this year, would remain despite the shutdown.
The previous German government – a coalition of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens – decided to shut down Germany’s nuclear power stations by 2021.
However, last September Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition scrapped those plans – announcing it would extend the life of the country’s nuclear reactors by an average of 12 years. Ministers said they needed to keep nuclear energy as a “bridging technology” to a greener future.
The decision to extend was unpopular in Germany even before the radioactive leaks at the Fukushima plant. But following Fukushima, Mrs Merkel promptly scrapped her extension plan, and announced a review.
Before March’s moratorium on the older power plants, Germany relied on nuclear power for 23 per cent of its energy.