HomeIndustry SectorsGenerationGerman plan to close down all nuclear reactors draws little support

German plan to close down all nuclear reactors draws little support

German Chancellor
Angela Merkel
Berlin, Germany — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 02 June 2011 – The German plan to shut all nuclear reactors by 2022 is unlikely to inspire many imitators abroad, even though safety worries after Japan’s Fukushima crisis have dimmed nuclear industry hopes of a renaissance, experts say.

Reuters reports that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phase-out plan risks boosting greenhouse gas emissions by aiding fossil fuel producers, despite her assurances of a renewed drive to promote greener energies such as wind and solar power, they added.

“Most other countries are saying, ‘Let’s take a pause and learn lessons after Fukushima’, not ‘Let’s close down nuclear power’,” said Malcolm Grimston, a nuclear expert at the Chatham House think-tank in Britain.

“Germany is a special case, Merkel is in a special position,” he said. Her abrupt shift follows disastrous election results for her Christian Democrats and their Free Democrat allies, partly blamed on her former pro-nuclear views.

He predicted her plan could face legal challenges, perhaps from German utilities such as E.ON and RWE, damaged by closures. Beneficiaries might include French or Polish electricity generators that could export to Germany.

Hans Blix, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said he stuck to a view after Merkel’s plan that the Fukushima disaster would prove to be a ‘bump in the road, but not the end of the road’ for atomic power around the world.

“I think it is an unwise decision but, perhaps in the circumstances of the German public opinion, almost inevitable,” he told Reuters.

Switzerland also plans to phase out nuclear power and Italy, the only non-nuclear Group of Eight nation, has shelved plans to build reactors. But many others, such as the United States, China, Britain and France, have remained broadly in support.