Joined: 24 September 2007
Ms Merkel said Germany would reap economic benefits from the move.
Germany is the biggest industrial power to renounce nuclear energy, in a policy reversal for the governing centre-right coalition.
Mrs Merkel set up a panel to review nuclear power following the crisis at Fukushima in Japan.
The crisis, triggered by an earthquake and tsunami in March, led to mass anti-nuclear protests across Germany.
The anti-nuclear drive boosted Germany's Green party, which took control of the Christian Democrat stronghold of Baden-Wuerttemberg, in late March.
Analysts say Mrs Merkel may be eyeing a future coalition with the Greens.'Opportunities'
Mrs Merkel said that in its "fundamental" rethink of policy, Germany could set an example for other countries.
"We believe we as a country can be a trailblazer for a new age of renewable energy sources," the German chancellor was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.
"We can be the first major industrialised country that achieves the transition to renewable energy with all the opportunities - for exports, development, technology, jobs - it carries with it."
She also said that electricity in the future should be "safer and at the same time reliable and affordable", linking the decision to step back from nuclear power to the crisis in Japan.
"We learned from Fukushima that we have to deal differently with risks," she said.
Under the German plan the country's seven oldest reactors - which were taken offline for a safety review immediately after the Japanese crisis - would never be used again.
An eighth plant - the Kruemmel facility in northern Germany, which was already offline and has been plagued by technical problems - would also be shut down for good.
Six others would go offline by 2021 at the latest and the three newest by 2022.
The previous German government - a coalition of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens - decided to shut down Germany's nuclear power stations by 2021.
However, last September Ms Merkel's coalition scrapped those plans - announcing it would extend the life of the country's nuclear reactors by an average of 12 years.
The decision to extend was unpopular in Germany even before the radioactive leaks at the Fukushima plant.
Following Fukushima, Mrs Merkel promptly scrapped her extension plan, and announced a review.
Germany's nuclear industry has argued that an early shutdown would be hugely damaging to the country's industrial base.
Before March's moratorium on the older power plants, Germany relied on nuclear power for 23% of its energy.
Nearly a quarter of German's electricity comes from nuclear power so the question becomes: How do you make up the short-fall?
The official commission which has studied the issue reckons that electricity use can be cut by 10% in the next decade through more efficient machinery and buildings.
The intention is also to increase the share of wind energy. This, though, would mean re-jigging the electricity distribution system because much of the extra wind power would come from farms on the North Sea to replace atomic power stations in the south.
Protest groups are already vocal in the beautiful, forested centre of the country which, they fear, will become a north-south "energie autobahn" of pylons and high-voltage cables.
Some independent analysts believe that coal power will benefit if the wind plans don't deliver what is needed.
And on either side of Germany is France, with its big nuclear industry, and Poland, which has announced an intention to build two nuclear power stations.
Joined: 04 March 2009
Joined: 24 September 2007
Joined: 27 October 2008
Joined: 29 July 2008
Joined: 18 January 2006
Unlike nuclear weapons, nuclear energy is a positive utilization of nuclear power for generating electricity. For several decades it has been a major source of power. Despite disasters like Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, we have believed that we can rectify the human error and use it safely.
Unfortunately, what happened at the Fukushima plant in Japan makes us reevaluate nuclear energy. This was a 'safe' nuclear energy plant, run by the best experts in the field, designed to have earthquake safety plans and everything to keep it safe. When disaster struck at a slightly bigger magnitude than expected, everything went wrong.
Disasters are rare and natural disasters like Fukushima are even rarer. However, is nuclear energy absolutely safe? Does it make sense to continue to use nuclear energy, despite the risks? We also need to consider the financial risks – the United States alone has had about ten minor/major disasters of over 100 million dollars each.
Most nuclear plants existing today do not actually have a disaster management plan. Most nuclear plant operators are profit oriented and are resisting the development of disaster management plans. Take Diablo Canyon in California for example, located in an earthquake zone. Despite Fukushima, the plant refuses to develop disaster management. The new Gulf Coast commissioned plant has nothing in place for hurricane damage.
It is not as if nuclear energy is our only source of energy. There are many more viable and renewable sources of energy. Considering the extreme risk to human life and the long term consequences of nuclear plant failure, it appears that we don't seem to weigh the risk of a catastrophe as much as we should and they can far outweigh the benefits. Cost is often cited as a reason to continue using nuclear power. However, nuclear energy is one of the most expensive forms of energy. It takes millions of dollars to commission a plant. When you add to it the repairs and fixes required to prevent known disasters it adds up even more. Alternate renewable energy has far less disaster risk and so far, the management costs are also less. When you compare the cost-benefit of alternative energy vs nuclear energy in the long run it evens out. So it would make more sense to go for the one that has the less disaster risk.
I'm not against nuclear energy in general. I'm not against commissioning new plants, nor am I freaking out that all plants should be shut down and phased out immediately. We should not overreact or act hastily. However, out of respect for human life and the unpredictability that is mother nature as well as human nature we ought
- Revaluate existing and commissioned plants to evaluate disaster risks and expect all existing and developing plants to have disaster management plans in place and keep reevaluating.
- Focus on alternative energy in the long run, phase out nuclear energy and envision a future focused on clean, renewable, safe energy sources (this will take decades, but we need small steps now).
Germany is taking a small step in the positive direction by phasing away from nuclear energy.
Joined: 03 December 2005
Joined: 02 November 2010
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