Germany Abandons Nuclear Power, Increases CO2 Emissions

Andrew Follett | Energy and Science Reporter

Germany is set to abandon nuclear power entirely by 2022 in favor of solar and wind, significantly increasing the country’s carbon dioxide emissions due to increased coal use.

“Germany’s retreat from nuclear should serve as an important lesson as to what can happen when reliable, carbon-free nuclear energy is taken out of the energy mix.  The country, which once was a leader in green energy innovation, is now lagging behind its emissions targets, a result of nuclear’s phase-out there,” wrote a spokesperson for Nuclear Matters in an email to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Nuclear power’s decline has created an opening for coal power according to a Voice of America article published Sunday. Coal now provides 44 percent of  Germany’s power, despite the fact that coal ash is actually more radioactive than nuclear waste. This shift caused Germany’s CO2 emissions to actually rise by 28 million tons  each year after Germany’s nuclear policy changed. Germany’s government decided to abandon nuclear energy after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan galvanized opposition.

In the year 2000, nuclear power made up 29.5 percent of Germany’s energy. In 2015 the share dropped down to 17 percent, and by 2022 the country intends to have every one of its nuclear plants shutdown. The cost replacing nuclear power with wind and solar is estimated by the government to be over a trillion euros, without any assurances that the program will actually reduce emissions.

Electricity from new wind power is nearly four times as expensive as electricity from existing nuclear power plants according to analysis from the Institute for Energy Research. The rising cost of subsidies is passed onto ordinary rate-payers, which has triggered complaints that poor households are subsidizing the affluent.

Germany’s anti-nuclear movement has a long history.  In 1975, 28,000 protesters occupied a new reactor and managed to stop construction. After the incident at Three Mile Island the country over 200,000 protesters took to the streets. A recent poll showed that 81 percent of Germans supported the government’s decision to abandon nuclear power.

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