The closure of Germany’s remaining nuclear plants

The closure of Germany’s remaining nuclear plants


Germany is also shutting down its last three remaining nuclear plants. Germany’s Green Party has long called for the shutdown of nuclear plants


At a time when many countries in Asia are trying to move towards nuclear energy despite the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Germany is also going to close its last three nuclear plants.


At the end of March, Germany’s Environment Minister and Green Party leader Ishtefi Lemke put an end to the ambivalent debate over whether or not to continue nuclear power in a few sentences. Ending the curiosity that has been going on for many years, he said, “The dangers associated with nuclear energy are ultimately out of control, so the end of the nuclear age will make our country safe and rid of nuclear waste.” ”


Earlier, the government had become a victim of a new controversy regarding this. Although the Social Democratic Party, the Green Party and the Free Democratic Party in the ruling coalition agreed that all nuclear plants would be shut down by the end of 2022 under the formula set by Chancellor Merkel in 2011. Could not be implemented.


The start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the cutoff of Russian gas supplies to Germany and fears of possible energy shortages did not allow nuclear plants to be shut down. In this context, Chancellor Olaf Schulz decided to keep the nuclear reactors active until April 15, 2023.


A decades-old feud

Public opinion on nuclear power in Germany has been divided. In this debate, on various occasions, public opinion has sometimes been in favor of it and sometimes against it. In Germany, on June 17, 1961, the first nuclear power plant in the Kahl region of the southern German province of Bavaria began to transmit electricity, and now twenty-two thousand five hundred and ninety-six days later, on April 15, 2023, after the closure of the last three nuclear plants. This story will reach its end.


In Germany, the use of nuclear energy began with the ‘egg’. Germany’s first nuclear reactor was installed in October 1957 in Garching, a suburb of the southern city of Munich. Its building was called the ‘nuclear egg’ based on its shape and was administered by the Technical University of Munich. It was considered a milestone in nuclear research in Germany after World War II. The reactor remained operational until 2000.


Three years after the establishment of this reactor, in 1961, a nuclear reactor was installed in Kahl am Main, Bavaria, to generate energy for civilian purposes. After that nuclear plants were installed at various other places. Nuclear energy was then considered clean and safe. The oil crisis of 1973 gave further impetus to nuclear energy.

Voices Against Nuclear Power


It was only in the 1970s that opponents of nuclear power began to raise concerns about nuclear waste disposal. The most important thing in this regard was that if it is not easy to dispose of nuclear waste safely, how can nuclear energy be considered safe? In this context, thousands of people held a major march for the first time outside the Berkdorf nuclear plant in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, and there were also clashes between police and protesters.


In Germany, in the same context, environment friends called “Nuclear energy?” The slogan “No thanks” came out, which became an integral part of almost every protest in this regard. In the year 1980, a new party was established in the same context in the former West Germany, which was named “Green Party”. In this group, the opponents of nuclear energy, environmentalists, left-wing and pacifists were prominent. In 1983, this party managed to make its place in the German parliament.


After a nuclear accident in the US state of Pennsylvania on March 28, 1979, the dangers of nuclear power became more apparent. On April 26, 1986, after the catastrophic accident of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in the former Soviet Union and the spread of radiation throughout Europe, including Germany, these fears and concerns became stronger.


Germany was then divided into communist East Germany and democratic West Germany. The government in East Germany was given some information about the accident, but in West Germany there was complete uncertainty. In the same situation, an emergency response team was formed and then disbanded.


Iodine tablets, tons of fruits, vegetables and other items were bought and destroyed. Children were banned from playing in the sand and people were told not to step out of their homes in the rain. In Germany, although not many health effects were seen, however, in the same context, radiation limits were introduced in the country and the Ministry of Environment was also created.


Riots erupted in the Bavarian town of Weckersdorf where nuclear waste was being transported for disposal, killing dozens of protesters and government officials and injuring hundreds. A ban on the construction of nuclear plants in Germany was imposed in 1989, which German environmentalists call their first victory.

Goodbye nuclear energy


In 1998, when the Social Democratic Party (SPD) came to government under the leadership of Gerhard Schröder, together with the Green Party, an agreement with major energy companies set a 2021 deadline for the decommissioning of nuclear plants across the country. In this regard, it was agreed to shut down all 19 nuclear plants located in Germany.


The conservative CDU, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, scrapped the deal and agreed to keep the nuclear plants operational. On March 11, 2011, however, after the accident at the nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan, concerns about nuclear energy increased once again, including in Germany. In Germany, public opinion in this regard was strong.


In this context, Chancellor Merkel once again set a deadline of 2022 for the elimination of nuclear plants. In this regard, on July 30, 2011, the German parliament also voted in favor of the closure of nuclear reactors.




After the Russian attack on Ukraine, in the context of the energy crisis across Europe, including Germany, once again the debate became common in Germany whether nuclear plants should be closed. Leaders of the conservative CDU party once again called for nuclear energy to be pursued, so that the energy gap created by the Russian gas shutdown could be met with electricity. Several leaders of the FDP in the ruling coalition also expressed their opinion in favor of nuclear energy, on the other hand, the Green Party and the SPD had different opinions in this regard. The Green Party and the SPD have been campaigning bluntly on promises to shut down nuclear plants and move towards alternative energy sources.

Shutdown of nuclear plants


Keeping in mind the possible energy problems after the Ukrainian war and the Russian gas shutdown for Germany in the same context, the period of shutdown of nuclear plants was extended till April 15, 2023. However, Germany’s remaining three nuclear reactors are finally being shut down.


Japan back to nuclear power


After the Fukushima accident in 2011, nuclear plants in Japan were shut down. The accident brought back memories of the World War II nuclear attack in Japan and exposed a large area to radiation, but slowly Japan’s nuclear reactors have been reactivated. Recently, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that his country should make the most of nuclear energy. As carbon emissions are negligible during nuclear energy, many people consider nuclear energy to be clean and environmentally friendly.


Recent polls show that Fumio Kishida enjoys public support for nuclear power despite resistance to nuclear power in Japan.

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