As yet further evidence of the backlash from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant’s post earthquake crisis in Japan, German officials have announced that they will shutter all remaining nuclear reactors within the next decade.
Last month, the BBC reported that the German leadership would move in this direction. Officially, all reactors will be taken offline by 2022, with those that have been shut down since post-earthquake concerns arose in March staying out of commission permanently. A New York Times article mentions that Germany currently receives 22.6% of their electricity from nuclear energy, which is generated by 17 reactors.
Der Spiegel reports that the federal parliament passed a series of bills today sanctioning the move to close the reactors. The paper goes on to state that the previous German administration had approved a plan to phase out nuclear power a decade ago, but Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration initially opposed the action. Now Merkel has led the push to institute the ban.
As part of the move away from nuclear energy, some fear that fossil fuels will find favor once more. An op-ed from the Washington Post last month lambasted the decision to move away from carbon-free nuclear power. In order to prevent the return to coal and other carbon emitting sources, the laws passed today commit “Germany to an ambitious green-energy course. By 2020 the national fraction of power drawn from renewable sources — solar, wind, biomass, etc. — will have to double from today’s 17 to 35 percent. Government subsidies for water power and geothermal energy will be increased, but support for solar, biomass, and land-based wind energy will fall.”