By Annika Breidthardy, Reuters, in Globe and Mail, May 30, 2011
Germany will shut all its nuclear reactors by 2022, parties in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government agreed on Monday, in a reaction to Japan’s Fukushima disaster that marks a drastic policy reversal.
As expected, the coalition wants to keep the eight oldest of Germany’s 17 nuclear reactors permanently shut. Seven were closed temporarily in March, just after the earthquake and tsunami hit Fukushima. One has been off the grid for years.
Another six will be taken offline by 2021, Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen said early on Monday after late-night talks in the chancellor’s office between leaders of the centre-right coalition.
The remaining three reactors, Germany’s newest, will stay open for another year until 2022 as a safety buffer to ensure no disruption to power supply, he said.
Ms. Merkel backtracked in March on an unpopular decision just months earlier to extend the life of ageing nuclear stations in Germany, where the majority of voters oppose atomic energy.
Watching the German response to the Japanese disaster, one is struck by the degree of concensus among her political leaders. Presumably, few in politics wish to face what the Japanese decision-makers now face following a ten-year extension of the licence for the Fukushima tragedy and the largest tsunami-earthquake one-two punch in history.
Germany wil likely, consequently, become a world leader in alternative energy sources in the next dozen years because no one anticipates a slowing of her capacity and will to manufacture some of the world's most dependable, most creative and stylish and most technically advanced products including automobiles, among many others.
Isn't it interesting that a woman, educated as a scientist, is in the vanguard of this decision, not another lawyer or economist. And the German people seem to be favourably disposed to many, if not most, of the decisions made by her government recently.
Now, it will be interesting to watch and listen to other world leaders whose economies are dependent on nuclear power field questions about their planning and policy decisions on this file, starting with Ontario, where the government has committed to "getting off" coal fired electricity and ramping up its nuclear power generation capacity, with an election coming in October.