Germany ended its nuclear energy era on 17 April as its last three nuclear plants switched off. The plant closures followed a 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, and a decision to adopt a climate-friendly energy policy. The Federation of German Industries, however, has issued a series of warnings, citing worries over supply security and high energy prices. Nonetheless, the German government remains optimistic that the shutdown will be balanced by the long-term advantages of developing renewable technologies. The Greens in Germany are actively promoting renewables, claiming that vast potential exists for renewable energy in the form of wind, solar and biomass, and that more than 80% of the country’s energy needs can be met by 2030.
Germany’s nuclear phase-out has been a turbulent process over the past ten years. The aim has been to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, a goal that the government still hopes to achieve. The shift towards renewables has seen massive government investments in wind, solar and offshore projects, while at the same time, lowering carbon emissions.
The government’s decision on renewable energy has political implications as the country heads towards federal elections. A recent survey shows that two-thirds of Germans favor extending the lifespan of nuclear reactors or connecting old plants back to the grid. Advantages to doing so include the fact that nuclear energy can produce less greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuels, which could help Germany reach its climate targets. However, this push has been met with a mixed response, making it a contentious issue for the upcoming federal election.
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