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Germany To End Nuclear Power By 2022 822

Posted by samzenpus
from the nicht-mehr-kernkraft dept.
dcollins writes "Germany on Monday announced plans to become the first major industrialized power to shut down all its nuclear plants in the wake of the disaster in Japan, with a phase-out due to be wrapped up by 2022... Germany has 17 nuclear reactors on its territory, eight of which are currently off the electricity grid... Already Friday, the environment ministers from all 16 German regional states had called for the temporary order on the seven plants to be made permanent... Monday's decision is effectively a return to the timetable set by the previous Social Democrat-Green coalition government a decade ago. And it is a humbling U-turn for Merkel, who at the end of 2010 decided to extend the lifetime of Germany's 17 reactors by an average of 12 years, which would have kept them open until the mid-2030s."
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Germany To End Nuclear Power By 2022

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  • By coincidence... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday May 30, 2011 @09:49AM (#36286098) Journal
    France has stated that it will open several new nuclear reactors before 2022, and will increase the amount of power that it exports to Germany.
    • Re:By coincidence... (Score:5, Informative)

      by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Monday May 30, 2011 @10:04AM (#36286194) Homepage Journal

      Currently france is not exporting relevant amounts of power to germany. In fact before the 7 reactors got shut down a few weeks ago, germany had an overcapacity of 40% and exported power to european countries.
      Ofc due to grid load, maintanance of power plants or economic considerations there is also power imported all the time from everywhere in europe.
      That is just how the grid works.

      You know, a steel plant is unexpectingly shutting down. The power plant which is planned in to feed it has now a large surplus. Running it on 50% of its capacity is not economical. So you shut it down to standby and buy the power from France or Slovakia.

      Also power export and import is in a large scale directly to end customers. It is not that "germany" is buying power in France. It is that the Steel Company XYZ in Duisburg is doing so. Or that the cooling houses of Food Company ABC in Munich is buying power from Norway.

      angel'o'sphere

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by thijsh (910751)
      I feel much safer knowing that the nation with the best track record in the world for engineering is now producing nuclear power for a nation that is mostly ridiculed for their track records in engineering and military prowess! Oh wait...

      But seriously, it is very disappointing to see the Germans make a rash decision from a scared gut-feeling instead of sticking to science and intelligent logic... The last time they did this it didn't work out so well for the rest of Europe, or them in the end for that mat
      • by gmueckl (950314)

        This "dumb shit" as you call it is the result of a nation-wide hysteria about nuclear energy that started in the early 80s. It has mostly been fueled mainly by environmentalists and the green party and it stuck. As a result, no new reactors have been built in Germany for decades and in addition to that, everyone is now afraid of the old ones standing everywhere. And a neat case of almost universal selective perception makes people listen to those expert naysayers who draw up the most horrible scenarios inst

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jeremi (14640)

        But seriously, it is very disappointing to see the Germans make a rash decision from a scared gut-feeling instead of sticking to science and intelligent logic...

        Yes, they should listen only to the serious and careful reports of the nuclear industry, like Japan did.

        • by thijsh (910751)
          Yeah, like the serious reports from about 40 years ago that states that the nuclear power plant design used was inherently unsafe?
      • But seriously, it is very disappointing to see the Germans make a rash decision from a scared gut-feeling instead of sticking to science and intelligent logic.

        It was no "rash decision". Since Tschernobyl, the German poeple were opposed to nuclear power, just the lobbyists had bigger wallets. And it is a logical decision. No power is more expensive to produce than nuclear power. It's just that a lot of the expenses are payed by the tax payer. If the nuclear power lobby had to pay that all themselves, the pr

  • "Well what the hell are we supposed to use? Harsh language?"

    • Well, German words can sound very powerful!
      • by Abstrackt (609015)

        Absolutely! Here's a fine (and famous) example:

        "Achtung! Alle touristen und non-technischen lookenpeepers! Das machine is nicht fur fingerpoken und mittengrabben. Is easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken mit spitzen sparken. Das machine is diggen by experten only. Is nicht fur gerwerken by das dummkopfen. Das rubbernecken sightseeren keepen das cottenpicken hands in das pockets. Relaxen und watchen das blinkenlights."

  • Serious question; (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cablepokerface (718716) on Monday May 30, 2011 @09:56AM (#36286128)

    Where does the power come from then!?

    The government must now determine how it can make up the difference with renewable energy sources, natural gas and coal-fired plants.

    I mean, really? That'll end up being 90% coal at the very least. I love sentiment driven politics, It's crappy, but waaay more interesting.

      • Re:Serious question; (Score:5, Interesting)

        by siddesu (698447) on Monday May 30, 2011 @10:28AM (#36286432)

        Will you stop regurgitating that ancient crap, please?

        This is a quote of a 1978 study, commissioned by the nuclear lobby and performed by a nuclear laboratory, and it only states that a certain unfiltered coal plant may have insignificantly more "radioactive" particles within about a mile downwind from the chimney during times of normal operation. Your generation doesn't remember this, but at the time it was projected that the requirements for filters on the chimneys will bankrupt the coal power generation like, totally, and that we'll be running on nuclear within very short time.

        Since then many things happened, one of them being stringent air quality laws all over the developed world.

        Wonder why nobody has repeated this study to validate its outcome?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Does not change the fact that coal is a dirty fossil fuel, while modern nuclear is clean and safe. Key word in that sentence was modern for all you fake environmentalists, so i do not want to hear about Chernobyl or ancient Japanese nuclear plants built on fault lines. We should be switching ALL of out generation to nuclear with the exceptions of hydroelectricity (which for now i will include tidal or wave based energy) and geothermal where it is available. That will power our world for as long as it take

          • by rmstar (114746)

            Does not change the fact that coal is a dirty fossil fuel, while modern nuclear is clean and safe.

            Yes, just like was claimed for the Chernobyl plant, and that old Westinghouse pressure cookers the Japanese have. "Safe. No problem. Never ever. Power too cheap to meter". Only thing: they weren't that safe. The pebble bed reactors, btw, were also supposed to be guaranteed safe, but they weren't. Nuclear has one hell of a credibility problem. Those claims of "passive safety" are just that: claims. And made by p

        • You may be right about coal and radioactivity in the current age. But the impact of coal is not just what is pumped out the smoke stack.

          Have you seen an open-pit coal mine? Of course, it's "not in your backyard"...

        • Re:Serious question; (Score:5, Informative)

          by PhreakOfTime (588141) on Monday May 30, 2011 @11:09AM (#36286778) Homepage

          Nobody needs to repeat that study, because like you said, it's not relevant.

          But you know what is relevant? Instead of all that stuff going up in smoke, it now gets stored in giant piles of waste. Usually on site, but sometimes at an offsite disposal facility. Such fun things as; arsenic, beryllium, boron, cadmium, chromium, chromium VI, cobalt, lead, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, selenium, strontium, thallium, and vanadium, along with dioxins and PAH compounds.

          Perfectly safe, until this [nytimes.com] happens that is.

      • by Glock27 (446276) on Monday May 30, 2011 @11:25AM (#36286870)

        Regardless of the radiation emitted by coal fired plants, the pollutants are (at a minimum) responsible for killing thousands of people a year.

        Nuclear power is clearly desirable from many standpoints, and there are absolutely no insurmountable problems (most definitely including nuclear waste disposal/reuse).

        Fukushima was a worst-case scenario involving both forty year old technology and very poor planning. If only the backup generators had been in a tsunami-proof vessel, like at other plants, there would have been no meltdown. Modern reactor designs would also avoid any meltdown scenario.

        • by rmstar (114746) on Monday May 30, 2011 @02:00PM (#36288764)

          Nuclear power is clearly desirable from many standpoints, and there are absolutely no insurmountable problems (most definitely including nuclear waste disposal/reuse).

          Care to put some substance to that claim? What are you going to do with nuclear waste? Reprocessing produces more waste than what goes in.

          Fukushima was a worst-case scenario involving both forty year old technology and very poor planning.

          There is a plant in Germany, same model than that in Fukushima, that lost power (from the outside) one especially cold winter, and almost melted down. That was in the seventies (google for Grundremmingen). The block in question has been shut down since then. No worst case, it was just a little bit too cold.

          If only the backup generators had been in a tsunami-proof vessel, like at other plants, there would have been no meltdown.

          Yes, but they didn't have them. You see, real safety, not mickey-mouse make believe duck-and-cover safety is much too expensive to the folks in the executive class that get to become rich with this type of projects. So they prefer to allow for the occasional meltdown.

          The main problems with nuclear is not necessarily technical, but political and social. We'd need a very different type of management technology to make nuclear succeed.

    • ORLY?

      In 2010 nearly 17% (more than 100 TWH) of Germany's electricity supply (603 TWH) was produced from renewable energy sources.

      http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2011/03/new-record-for-german-renewable-energy-in-2010??cmpid=WNL-Wednesday-March30-2011 [renewableenergyworld.com]

    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      they will just buy natural gas from that nice Mr Putin - I am sure they can out bid the former warsaw pact counties but hey who cares if a few Slavs freeze to death in the winter
    • Re:Serious question; (Score:4, Informative)

      by Nimey (114278) on Monday May 30, 2011 @10:53AM (#36286640) Homepage Journal

      Germany's coal is mostly brown coal, so it'll pollute a whole lot more than the bituminous or anthracite coal other parts of the world use.

  • so just how many (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mjwalshe (1680392) on Monday May 30, 2011 @09:56AM (#36286130)
    Tsunamis and earthquakes has Germany had in lets say the last 1000 years :-)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Don't know about the last 1000 years, but the german Wikipedia lists 8 with a magnitude >= 4,5 since 2002.

  • They will actually be able to replace those 23% of the energy production in the meantime without increasing the energy costs too much... difficulty: the price for 2011 will already be about 50% higher than 2010 according to my energy supplier (announced a few weeks ago, before this decision).
  • The headline should read:

    Germany To End Nuclear Power By 2022 yet again

    Politicians are good at two things: making large strategic decisions that do not require anything now but much in not-so-near future and apologizing stuff that their predecessors have made. This decision will be repealed; nothing to see here, move along.

  • by Huntr (951770) on Monday May 30, 2011 @10:04AM (#36286196)

    The circumstances that contributed to the failings at Fukushima are not similar to the situation surrounding nuclear plants in Switzerland or Germany. This is nonsense.

    They want to improve their use of renewables, awesome. They should keep the nuke plants while boosting efforts on wind, solar, and hydro. Ramping up reliance on fossil-fueled energy while waiting for those other technologies to get to where we need them to be is foolish.

  • Apparently, people make the right choice only after all other options were exhausted.
    --
    signed: rastos, citizen of EU.
  • Overreaction due to a disaster by a reactor that should have never been built in the first place. It should be common sense to never build a device that cannot be tuned off (or 3 months to turn off). There are other nuclear reactor designs that can be turn off quickly. Banning the entire industry without a proper review is stupid.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Please tell me of any current commercial nuclear reactor in the World that can be turned off immediately?

      ALL of them heat some medium and power turbines this way. ALL of them need several months/years of cooling, thermal or nuclear, before they can be shut down or dismantled.

    • by jimicus (737525)

      True, but there is a political side-effect of the people who design these reactors naming them based on the technology they use to generate power. It means a poorly conceived nuclear reactor at Fukishima tars every other nuclear reactor with the same brush - even if the design means that it doesn't suffer from the same problems.

      What would make far more sense would be to rename a bunch of nuclear reactors "Super Happy Perfectly Safe Generators"

  • Let me see... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BlueParrot (965239) on Monday May 30, 2011 @10:07AM (#36286228)

    Oil is likely to run out or become very expensive during the next few decades, if plug in hybrids and electric cars is the most likely replacement for gasoline ( and it seems to be the case at the moment ) then much more electricity will be needed.

    Environmental concerns mandate a large reduction in the use of coal for electricity.
    EU-member states have committed to such reductions through several treaties and
    directives, and it is unlikely that they will simply be dropped.

    Wind cannot contribute a majority of electricity generation out of load levelling concerns.

    Solar is prohibitively expensive and only does well in Germany due to strong economic
    incentives that would be very costly to scale. It also doesn't work during the night, and large
    scale energy storage is prohibitively expensive.

    Scaling bio-mass to supply a nation the size of Germany would have a dramatic environmental
    impact associated with its cultivation, growth and combustion. It is presently very expensive for
    applications other than heating, and the more advanced bio-fuels (cellulosic ethanol ) that actually
    seem feasible are still experimental. Brazil kinda makes etanol from sugar cane work, but it is
    dubious if the practice would be sustainable outside of tropical climates.

    So basically unless they overturn this decision it seems likely that Germany will end up importing
    electricity or making themselves reliant on Russian natural gas. This is what happens when you make
    policy based on populism and wishful thinking rather than reality.

    • by Lifyre (960576)

      Exactly, ethanol only works in Brazil because they have such large amounts of sugar domestically. So fuels like butanol (or other forms of ethanol production like you mentioned) which are getting closer to being viable either need to actually make it to market in 5 years like they keep telling us or large scale energy storage needs to suddenly become much much cheaper.

      Butanol would probably be better than ethanol at least in the short term since it is virtually a drop in replacement for gasoline but what i

    • by ebuck (585470)

      Until people stop believing in electrical genies that can hold vast amounts of power in a thimble, they can't think about the problem rationally because they believe electric is the portable power solution. Electricity is great, but even if you replaced the entire interior of your car with the best battery technology, it wouldn't be but a few percent of the energy stored in your gas tank.

      Yes, it is getting better, and there is hope that one day it will be "good enough" for the task at hand; however, a 200%

      • by w_dragon (1802458)
        As opposed to driving around an engine that needs to convert chemical energy to mechanical and electric, survive vibrations and bumps, control pollution, and not make enough noise to wake up the neighborhood? The problems of an ICE, while solved, were much larger than the problems of electric storage. Pure electrics can fill all the space that used to be taken up by things like the engine, cooling systems, exhaust systems, alternator, and fill it with battery. Electric motors are fairly small, simple pie
      • They don't need to have the same driving range as a petrol vehicle if the recharge time can be improved. This is especially true when we start running out of oil. The latest battery tech that is on the market can recharge in 15 minutes or so. Yes, it is longer than to fill a gas tank, but in a decade or two the price of petrol will justify it. So basically you will find that people will be quite fine with a range of 150km or so ( more has already been demonstrated ) when it saves them money. Governments wil

    • by jonwil (467024)

      What most people ignore (but that a LOT more people should be focusing on) is energy efficiency. We should be making it MUCH easier for consumers to compare running costs of everything from air conditioners to plasma TVs to George Foreman grills so they can make an informed decision based on how much electricity those devices need.

      If people could see how much the running costs were on the Sony TV vs the LG TV vs the Samsung TV, they are likely to factor that into their purchasing decisions.
      Even more so for

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by devent (1627873)

      As a German I think it's the perfect time to ditch the nuclear power and finally invest some of the billions of moneys that the electric cooperations taking and come up with a sustainable and green energy source. Without any pressure from the government we will use oil, gas, coal and nuclear until all of this resources will get so expensive and until we get a some major catastrophes, because the cooperations don't care one bit about the future.

      Everyone has known that the nuclear power plants have a limited

      • by khallow (566160)

        As a German I think it's the perfect time to ditch the nuclear power and finally invest some of the billions of moneys that the electric cooperations taking and come up with a sustainable and green energy source.

        So let me get this right. Your country has spent considerable money already over decades and you have yet to come up with a sustainable and green energy source? Why do you want to give them more money?

        Without any pressure from the government we will use oil, gas, coal and nuclear until all of this resources will get so expensive and until we get a some major catastrophes, because the cooperations don't care one bit about the future.

        Note the key line, "resources will get so expensive." The corporations and people will naturally switch over when fossil fuel-based generation are more expensive than renewable sources. So why use government to "pressure" what's going to happen anyway? High prices will provide all the pressure you want here an

        • by he-sk (103163)

          So let me get this right. Your country has spent considerable money already over decades and you have yet to come up with a sustainable and green energy source? Why do you want to give them more money?

          You don't know what you're talking about. We've already had a consensus to phase out nuclear energy in 2000 and that agreement contained concrete goals for renewable energy capacity that we're currently exceeding. Why do you think it is that Germany produces 16% of its electricity needs through renewables when the world's average is just a measly 1%? Because we've committed early to a nuclear-free world and made a plan to reach that goal.

      • by fnj (64210)

        OK, so, as a German of course, do you have any reason - other than pure wishful thinking - to suppose that the fundamental problems with renewable energy even CAN be solved by throwing more money at it and chanting incantations to the wizards of technology and to the great benevolent all-caring government?

        The following are plain, unalterable FACTS. Wind is capricious and requires vast area to harness it. Solar completely dies for 50% of every single day, has repeated extreme reductions for periods lasting

  • by Lifyre (960576) on Monday May 30, 2011 @10:08AM (#36286234)

    So their plan is to shutdown domestic nuclear power production without, from what I see, a corresponding increase in production from coal, gas, or "green" power sources. This means they'll be importing from places like France who are increasing their power production. While this is less of a concern now that they're all part of the warm and fuzzy EU brotherhood but Germany is handing the French (and any other country that will be doing the same, such as say the Netherlands) leverage in future negotiations.

    The only way I see this really working in the long term is if the EU becomes more of a Federalist system with the EU taking on the role of the Federal Government and the Member Nations taking on the role of the component states. Ultimately I think that may be a decent idea, obviously with more independence for the Member Nations than the states enjoy in the USA but with potential benefits. Keep in mind at this point it is purely idol speculation with no real knowledge on the issues this would generate or hurdles that would have to be jumped.

  • Concern (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DaMattster (977781) on Monday May 30, 2011 @10:09AM (#36286244)
    Natural gas and coal-fired power plants are not responsible alternatives to nuclear energy. Nuclear power does not belch out carbon monoxide and green house gases. By eschewing nuclear energy and blanketing as unsafe without looking into the technical problems and improving them, we may be headed down a entirely different wrong path. It seems like politicians the world around are excellent at making "large strategic decisions" without a clear, viable alternative. What about nuclear fusion? Where are we in that development?
  • by Khenke (710763) on Monday May 30, 2011 @10:14AM (#36286306) Journal

    If I had to choose between burning coal and fission reactors, I'd keep the nuclear.

    Yeah, I know people are scared because of what have happened in Japan, but I STILL rather have 100 nuclear plant in my backyard with a 0.0001% chance of killing or making me sick than one coal plant that are 100% sure to be bad (1) for my health.

    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossil_fuel_power_station [wikipedia.org]: The combustion of coal contributes the most to acid rain and air pollution, and has been connected with global warming.

  • Smart move. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I actually kind of like nuke power. it's pretty safe. its cheap. its easy to put just about anywhere.

    However... The worst case failure mode for a nuclear power plant is much much MUCH worse than anything else save perhaps hydro. And even then if the hydro dam fails and wipes out everything downstream... well you can go back in and rebuild now. not in 10,100,1000,10000 years when the place isnt 'hot' anymore.

    Arguments could be made for coal that it contaminates a much wider area over the entire time

  • by Vario (120611) on Monday May 30, 2011 @10:32AM (#36286480)

    While the reasoning of Merkel's government seems to be based on fear and emotions of the general public the background behind this is the nuclear waste.

    Fukushima is just an example that a complex technology like nuclear power can fail, even with a lot of safeguards in place and in a high-tech country like Japan. It is now obvious that Tepco did not do their homework correctly and that it is just a bad idea in general to build a power plant where a tsunami can hit the shore but this is only the catalyst for the debate in Germany. The main problem is and will be in the future the massive amounts of nuclear waste, with high and medium radiation levels. The situation in Germany for waste disposal is abysmal. In the 1960s due to political issues only two underground mines were seriously examined if they can keep the waste safe for eternity until the radiation levels are low enough to be harmless. These two mines are Asse and Gorleben.

    It is now very clear that during the last decades a lot of negative security reports for both mines were downplayed or never published. Asse is currently more or less flooded from groundwater penetrating the salt and while Gorleben seems safe today serious cracks have been discovered. So there is no place in Germany were we could safely store nuclear waste at all. The consensus was for a while to search for better places and it was obvious that any politician will fight tooth and nail against a mine in his district.

    At the same time Germany tries to increase the amount of renewable energy and is quite successful. Merkel's current move is certainly not completely ruled by reason but it fits into the bigger picture and the last thing she wants is large demonstrations and her being seen as a cold technocrat which almost brought her a defeat in the last election.

    While I personally like nuclear power much more than polluting the air with coal power plants, were the emissions also contain a lot of radioactivity and of course CO2 it feels irresponsible to use a technology as long as the waste problem is completely unsolved, at least in Germany.

  • This is a groundbreaking turn from the country already leading the world in renewable energy.
    The question is now, what combination of sources will replace the nuclear piece of the energy pie.
    Currently nuclear stands at 22% and renewables at 17% in Germany. I reccomend the literature here [eurosolar.de] for anyone who doubts renewables (solar, wind, geothermal, small hydro, biomass) are up to the task of displacing fossil and nuclear. Especially check out Hermann Scheer's "Energy Autonomy".
    As a bonus, this will be a ch
  • by xehonk (930376) on Monday May 30, 2011 @01:31PM (#36288426)

    While personally I would prefer a nuclear over a fossil fuel plant, I read that nuclear reactors are too slow to react to the highly variable energy production by wind turbines and photo-voltaic installations which make up an increasingly large percentage of the energy production in Germany.

    If this is true, keeping the existing reactors running for an extended period would not be beneficial towards the goal of migrating to renewable energy sources.

    The only source I can find for this at the moment is http://www.taz.de/1/zukunft/umwelt/artikel/1/so-bleiben-sie-atomkraftgegner/ [www.taz.de] (in german) - I would love to hear someone with a better understanding of the subject matter than me address this (and maybe to the other claims in the article).

  • by Falconhell (1289630) on Monday May 30, 2011 @11:46PM (#36292964) Journal

    Excellent news. News . Watch the pro nuke shills go ballistic with their ususal lies now. (:

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