The era of nuclear energy in Germany is over. All reactors at these three nuclear power plants were shut down before 00:00 pm on Saturday night, according to the operators of Isar 2 in Bavaria, Neckarwestheim 2 in Baden-Württemberg and Emsland in the north-west of the country. Thus, the process of denuclearization in electricity generation in Germany was completed.
While the nuclear power plants in question are no longer connected to the electricity grid, they met about 6 percent of the country's energy needs last year. Gerrit Niehaus, Head of the Nuclear Safety Department of the German Ministry of the Environment, told the German news agency DPA, "We are working in accordance with the law and it is clear that from 16 April operating nuclear electricity will be a criminal offense."
Nuclear opponents saw the shutdown of the country's three reactors as a victory, while businesses called the shutdowns "crazy" at a time when Europe's energy supplies were unstable and the world was trying to get rid of fossil fuels. With the end of nuclear energy in the country, it is pointed out that the danger in this regard comes to an end, while the nuclear facilities in countries such as France and Switzerland are located in the geography close to the country, causing leakage concerns to continue.
After being disconnected from the electrical grid, the reactor must be shut down in about fifteen minutes. After that, the reactor must be "cooled down, reducing the temperature in the system to ambient temperature in about twelve hours. About nine hours after shutdown, no more steam is visible on the cooling tower.
Even after the country's exit from nuclear energy, the challenges of tackling high-risk technology remain. The German government also has a difficult task ahead of dismantling nearly 30 deactivated nuclear power plants.
The process of dismantling a nuclear power plant takes about 15 years. On the other hand, the German authorities have not yet found a definitive solution for the storage of radioactive waste, which can be deadly for many years.
After decades of anti-nuclear protests in Germany, the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster accelerated actions against nuclear energy in the country. Under former Chancellor Angela Merkel, the decision was made to abandon nuclear energy on the grounds that risks from nuclear energy could not be safely controlled. The government made energy deals with Russia after the decision to disable nuclear power plants.
In accordance with the law of exit from nuclear energy after the said disaster, three nuclear power plants that have been active for 30 years were closed in 2021 and it was announced that the last three nuclear power plants in active state would be closed by the end of 2022. However, when the post-war energy crisis started by Russia in Ukraine deepened, the government postponed its decision to shut it down.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz instructed ministers on 17 October 2022 to keep the country's three remaining nuclear power plants operational until mid-April, after the lifespan of nuclear power plants sparked controversy among coalition partners.
Although the last three nuclear power plants were shut down last night, the German government stated that the security of energy supply is guaranteed. The nuclear gap in the country is expected to be filled with renewable energy.