Germany is closing its nuclear power plants and other European countries want to follow suit. Some ask.
Why is this important?Nuclear power plants can play a key role in the race for climate neutrality. Europe has not yet decided whether to give nuclear power a green label.
Ten years ago, when the tsunami hit the Fukushima nuclear reactor in northern Japan, Germany decided to phase out 12 of its nuclear facilities. Within a few months, the first power stations were closed. By the end of 2022, the last three will be closed for good.
Germany wants to be carbon neutral by 2045. The European Union aims to achieve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. But can Europe achieve those goals if the largest European economy eliminates nuclear energy? Nuclear-producing European countries emit less carbon dioxide than non-nuclear-producing countries. CO2 emissions per citizen in France are low, as well as high nuclear production.
Other countries, such as Sweden, have been able to reduce emissions without the use of nuclear energy. Most of Sweden’s electricity comes from renewable sources such as hydropower and wind power. The country has windy beaches where wind turbines blow very intensely. Along with nuclear power, they provide more than 60 percent of all energy.
Hungary, which has the lowest CO2 emissions per citizen, has been pursuing a new energy strategy since 2012. The report, entitled “National Energy Strategy until 2030”, significantly increased energy efficiency.
In 2011 most Germans supported this decision, and many more support it. In its election manifesto for the parliamentary elections in September, The Economist promised that the Green Party, which is likely to win at least 14.5% of the seats in the Bundestack, would eliminate nuclear energy from other European countries.
In July, Germany received support from Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg and Spain, opposing the EU’s plans to classify nuclear energy as “green” for investment purposes. To date, the EU has not taken an official position.
There is an image problem in nuclear power plants
Most of Germany’s neighbors did not listen. Of the 17 European countries that produce nuclear power, only Britain plans to close power plants soon. Yet the British are still building new power stations. Switzerland has banned the construction of new plants, but existing plants will operate “as long as they are safe”.
Poland, which relies heavily on coal, will begin construction of its first nuclear power plant in 2026. In March, the leaders of the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia wrote to the European Commission to point out that nuclear development in their countries was “disputed by some member states.”
Given the German elections on the horizon and the effects of the recent catastrophic floods, global warming will be high on the public agenda. Well-regulated nuclear power is, according to experts, a safe and consistent source of non-emitting electricity. Yet some politicians are reluctant to talk about it.
At most, Armin Laschett, leader of the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has said he wants to be the next president and pour coal before nuclear power. Extreme right Alternative to Germany The only party proposing to reintroduce nuclear power. For most German politicians the idea of a nuclear change is very dangerous.
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