News / Europe

Germany to Phase Out Nuclear Power by 2022

Germany to abandon nuclear energy in favor of renewable sources. Eight nuclear power plants already closed, there are plans to phase out all 17 by 2022.

The blur of car lights passing by the nuclear power plant Biblis, south of Frankfurt, central Germany, in a Jan 23, 2006 file photo. Germany's plan to start shutting down its 17 nuclear reactors as early as next year. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
The blur of car lights passing by the nuclear power plant Biblis, south of Frankfurt, central Germany, in a Jan 23, 2006 file photo. Germany's plan to start shutting down its 17 nuclear reactors as early as next year. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)



The Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant meltdown in March along with domestic political pressures prompted German Chancellor Angela Merkel to abandon nuclear energy in favor of renewable sources.


Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany


With eight nuclear power plants already shut down, Germany plans to phase out all 17 by 2022.

The German government intends to replace atomic energy with solar, wind and hydroelectric power.

The implications for Europe are enormous. The Swedes are worried about an increase in electricity prices across Europe and the French government claims that there is no way that the EU can meet its emission cutting targets without at least some use of nuclear power.

Nonetheless, Merkel hopes that countries will follow Germany’s lead.


Germany to Phase Out Nuclear Power by 2022
Germany to Phase Out Nuclear Power by 2022


Speaking on VOA’s Encounter, Steve Kerekes (left photo), Senior Director of Media Relations at the Nuclear Energy Institute told host Carol Castiel that Germany must prepare its citizenry and businesses to pay for the phase-outs, involving national security, energy and economic growth costs. “You cannot run a modern industrial economy on power sources that have that type of capacity. If you want to do it, as the Germans are going to find out, you just better be ready to pay for it,” says Kerekes.


(Photo: The Heinrich Böll Foundation)
(Photo: The Heinrich Böll Foundation)


On the other hand, Arne Jungjohann (left photo), Director of the Environment and Global Dialogue Program at the Heinrich Böll Foundation, explains that although the nuclear phase-out and transition to renewable energy sources would entail a cost increase to taxpayers, it would be modest. “The majority of people say they’d rather pay a little bit more on electricity,” says Jungjohann.

Given Germany’s high population density and its relatively small geographic size, Jungjohann believes the risk of something happening with any of the 17 nuclear power plants would result in an environmental catastrophe.


Germany to Phase Out Nuclear Power by 2022
Germany to Phase Out Nuclear Power by 2022


Jungjohann asserts that investing in renewable energy sources will pay off for Germany. “It’s a very exciting movement because on the one hand, you create these new jobs… solar manufacturing plants or wind turbine makers, on the other hand you create new jobs in very traditional industries… So German steel workers work a lot for the wind industry to produce these plates,” says Jungjohann. He predicts long-term success with this dual strategy of creating jobs in the green sector as well as in the industrialized sector where there is constant growth.

Arne Jungjohann and Steve Kerekes sparred over the inherent risks and benefits of nuclear power.

Jungjohann believes that nuclear power has hit its peak in Germany.  “We see now that it’s [nuclear power] quite risky, it is quite dirty, we don’t know what to do with the waste…and overall it doesn’t seem to be competitive in terms of its economics,” says Jungjohann.

Conversely, Kerekes deems that in the long term, the benefits of nuclear power outweigh its risks. He quotes US epidemiologist John Boice who says that the health effects from the Japanese disaster “should be thankfully minor because of the protective actions taken…Radiation is very easy to detect…that makes things easier and the impact to the populations outside Japan will be negligible to nonexistent,” cites Kerekes.


Germany to Phase Out Nuclear Power by 2022
Germany to Phase Out Nuclear Power by 2022


As for the United States, Kerekes says that despite the Fukushima events, Washington appears to be on the path to developing nuclear power as well as other clean energy sources. He says that the United States is not following Germany’s path just yet, but may in the future.

Kerekes questions how effective and successful renewable energy sources will be for Germany. “There’s a reason that Germany has been able to achieve this status as the fourth largest economy…and that’s in large part because of the proven ability of nuclear energy to provide large amounts of electricity reliably,” says Kerekes.

But Jungjohann projects Germany’s future as moving away from its nuclear past. “We are all very confident we can stick to our ambitious climate targets.”

You May Like

Yemen Brings US, Iran Closer to Naval Face-off

US sending two more ships to waters off coast of Yemen to take part in 'maritime security operations' More

Minorities Become Majority Across US

From 2000 to 2013, minorities became the majority in 78 counties in the United States. Here's where those demographic shifts are happening More

Japan's Maglev Train Breaks Own Speed Record

Seven-car 'magnetic levitation' train traveled at more than 600 kilometers per hour during test run Tuesday More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs