Germany has begun the closure of its remaining three nuclear reactors, despite the fact that several nations are experiencing atomic energy resurgences as a green energy source and the country itself is experiencing energy shortages as a result of natural gas supply disruptions caused by the Russia-Ukraine war.
It is not an instantaneous decision to stop using nuclear power in its grid. Germany first codified the objective in 2002, and the law was finally passed in 2011 in response to the Fukushima nuclear reactor accident in Japan. The legislation ordered phasing out the use of nuclear energy for commercial electricity production because of the substantial hazards involved.
Nuclear energy usage has been a big political issue. Green Party, one of the three parties in ruling coalition, has longstanding objection to nuclear power and sees nuclear opposition as the crux of its political identity.
The last three nuclear plants were contributing 6% of Germany power requirement till last year, Bloomberg reported. It will now be difficult for the Olaf Scholz-led government to find substitute before it develops alternate green energy sources.
The problem arises at an unprecedented time when the West is facing an impending energy crisis due to Ukraine war and its reliance on Russian natural gas.
Environmentalists are concerned that the lack of renewable energy alternatives would lead to an increase in coal consumption. Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg has criticised Germany’s decision to close its last operating nuclear power reactors as it may lead the country to rely only on coal-fired power.
However, Germany’s environmental minister Steffi Lemke has dismissed such fears, claiming that shifting away from “high-risk forms of energy” will not jeopardise Germany’s energy supply, according to Bloomberg, and that eliminating the risk of “devastating environmental disasters” will eventually make the country safer.
While Germany works to tackle the energy crisis, other major issues await resolution. Now that the facility has been shut down, the question is how to dispose of and demolish the nuclear infrastructure. The government must locate suitable areas to deposit radioactive waste.
(Inputs from wires)