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)

Multimedia

Audio

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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

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.

VOA Blogs