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Nuke Power Plants Shut Down In Germany Generate Benefits

By Countercurrents.org

13 November, 2012

Nuke shutdown in Germany has started producing benefits. The country is getting economic and environmental benefits, which is reaching investors, businesses and farmers.

With wide political support the German government took off the county’s eight oldest nuclear reactors following the Fukushima Nuclear Power plant accident in 2011. A following legislation will close the country’s last nuclear power plant by 2022.

A special issue, “The German Nuclear Exit”, of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists shows that the nuclear power plant shutdown and the following initiative to move toward renewable energy are generating economic and environmental benefits, and the benefits are measurable.

One expert called the German nuclear power plant phase-out a probable game-changer for the nuclear industry worldwide.

Alexander Glaser, a Princeton researcher, in his article, "From Brokdorf to Fukushima: The long journey to nuclear phase-out," discusses the historical context of the German decision. The country experienced widespread police-anti-nuclear demonstrator clashes. There is strong public opposition to nuclear power in Germany. Very few persons in Germany support plan for new reactor construction.

Glaser notes that Germany’s decision last year to pursue a nuclear phase-out was anything but precipitous; serious planning to shutter the nuclear industry and greatly expand alternative energy production.

Glaser concludes: “Germany's nuclear phase-out could provide a proof-of-concept, demonstrating the political and technical feasibility of abandoning a controversial high-risk technology. Germany’s nuclear phase-out, successful or not, is likely to become a game changer for nuclear energy worldwide.”

Miranda Schreurs, professor of politics, Freie Universitat, Berlin says the nuclear phase-out and accompanying shift to renewable energy have brought financial benefits to farmers, investors, and small business.

Felix Matthes of the Institute for Applied Ecology in Berlin concludes that the phase-out will have only small and temporary effects on electricity prices and the German economy.

Alexander Rossnagel and Anja Hentschel, legal experts, University of Kassel explain that electric utilities are unlikely to succeed in suing the government over the shutdown.

Lutz Mez, co-founder of Freie Universitat Berlin’s Environmental Policy Research Center, presents the most startling finding. The shift to alternative energy sources being pursued in parallel with the German nuclear exit has reached a climate change milestone, Mez writes: “It has actually decoupled energy from economic growth, with the country’s energy supply and carbon-dioxide emissions dropping from 1990 to 2011, even as its gross domestic product rose by 36 percent.”

The German experience help a lot to learn.




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