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Merkel defends nuclear phase out

The Local · 10 Mar 2012, 12:06

Published: 10 Mar 2012 12:06 GMT+01:00

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"We have seen the risks in a highly developed industrial country, risks which we considered impossible," she said in a video interview posted on the government's website. "It convinced me that we had to speed up the nuclear phase out."

In March last year, Europe's leading economy decided to immediately shut down its eight oldest nuclear reactors and to take nine others out of service by the end of 2022. In future, Germany aims to rely on renewable energy sources.

"I think that quite a large part of the (German) population is in favour of the phasing out of nuclear energy by 2022," said Merkel on Saturday.

Demonstrations are planned across Germany to mark tomorrow's anniversary of the disaster in Japan. Protesters will march under the slogan "A warning from Fukashima, shut down nuclear power plants now."

The German government's ambitious energy concept aims to raise the share of energy generated from renewable sources to 35 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.

The electric grid must be extended quickly if these targets are to be met, added Merkel. A plan for network extension will be announced at the beginning of June.

This isn't fast enough for some critics, who say Merkel's coalition is dragging its feet.

"The government has unfortunately put the nuclear phase out on the back burner," said Hubert Weiger, head of Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND). "This is irresponsible considering the risks of nuclear power and the unsolved problem of nuclear waste," he added.

Merkel sees great opportunities for German businesses on the world market in the switch over to renewable energy.

"We have a good chance of becoming leaders in other markets, for example in the market of renewable energy sources, and that could work out very well for us in the future," she said.

Story continues below…

Japan is gearing up to mark the first anniversary on Sunday of the huge earthquake and tsunami that devastated its northeast coast. More than 19,000 people were left dead or missing and the catastrophe sparked a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant - the world's worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986.

DPA/AFP/The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:48 March 10, 2012 by pepsionice
Basically, you end up accepting the idea of buying nuke power from Poland, France or Russia....at higher rates. It's comical in a way.....like saying it's bad to grow corn in your own country....so you forbid it.....then you buy corn from everyone else. People have lost touch with reality.
16:59 March 10, 2012 by raandy
First Mrs Merkel extended the deadline for the aged nuke plants.Then the Fukushima catastrophe,and a 100% turn around, more political than practical.

I agree it would be in the best interest of humanity to close them all, but first make sure you have enough power on line to supply your economy and population.

This is an excellent opportunity for Germany to take the lead in Green energy production.

I would assume, however, for the present fossil fuels manly erde gaz will be the only reliable alternative and I doubt that it could replace nuclear output for some time to come.

When the time draws near to shut down all these facilities there may be some rethinking necessary.
06:07 March 11, 2012 by GermanMonarchist
Bad move Germany,

Without your own natural resources, you will be forced to by expensive oil and gas from Russia. Renewable energy as a main soursce do energy for a big country like Germany is a myth at best. Why does German continue to destroy itself?
09:44 March 11, 2012 by hereward
As it seems to be such a self-destructive and senseless idea that no rational person would entertain,there must be some ulteriour motive,and it is probably marxist politics.There is nothing wrong with nuclear power,there have been disasters certainly,but the same can be said for any industry.Wind power is a croc,as is solar,so if it is a question of radiation,you will recieve much more and continually from "smart meters",yet these can cause various tumors with gay abandon.personally ,we should be investing heavily in thermal power,which simply requires drilling a deep hole,the technical expertese we already possess.Ironically phasing out germanys nukes ,does not seem to preclude those same German power companies building new ones in England,maybe they need us to pay thier debts.
16:27 March 13, 2012 by Lionel Tiger
It's a shame such short sighted politics pandering to special interest groups have taken precedence over practicality. Yes, Germany will probably end up importiny electricity generated from Polish coal power stations and French nuclear power stations. How about working on improving nuclear technology to make it safer, like Pebble Bed Reactors and Tokomak Fusion power plants.
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