01 Jun 2011 12:06:04
Germany to phase out nuclear power by 2022
German chancellor Angela Merkel has announced the country's fleet of nuclear power plants will be closed by 2022.
Late night talks were reportedly held between members of the coalition on Sunday (May 29th), culminating in environment minister Norbert Rottgen announcing the 17-strong fleet will be decommissioned.
"The seven oldest reactors that have been placed under a moratorium and the Kruemmel nuclear power plant won't go back online.
"A second group of six nuclear power plants will go offline at the end of 2021 at the latest and the three most modern power plants will go offline 2022 at the latest," he confirmed.
Ms Merkel has been coming under increasing pressure for her stance on nuclear power since the incident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, classed as the worst nuclear incident since Chernobyl.
In 1998 the German government took the decision to phase out nuclear power, but Ms Merkel reversed this when she came into office in 2009, introducing a law to extend the life of the existing plants by up to 12 years.
Following the earthquake in Japan and the incident at Fukishima, the seven oldest reactors in the country were taken offline as a safety review was carried out and the extension plans were scrapped.
However, Ms Merkel's Christian Democrat party still lost its strong hold of Baden-Wuerttemberg in an election in March as a result of the anti-nuclear settlement.
And with Germany deriving almost a quarter of its power from nuclear sources, questions are now being raised about how this capacity will be replaced.
The country has been investing in renewables, but is not well placed to access renewable sources and these will take time to develop, leading to speculation that this gap will be filled by coal in the short term.
Analysts told Reuters they expect the closure of the nuclear plants to add 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
Barclays Capital analyst Amrita Sen said: "Longer term, they will be using more renewables and gas but this year and next, we should see a lot of support for coal burn."