German Chancellor Angela Merkel has that the decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022 will make Germany a trailblazer in renewable energy and that the country would reap economic benefits from the move. Germany is the biggest industrial power to renounce nuclear energy, in a major policy reversal for the governing centre-right coalition.
A panel was set up to review nuclear power following the crisis at Fukushima in Japan resulting from the earthquake and tsunami (back in March) which led to significant anti-nuclear protests across Germany. The anti-nuclear drive Green party, also took control of the Christian Democrat stronghold of Baden-Wuerttemberg, in late March. Political commentators suggest that Chancellor Merkel could even be examining the prospects of a possible coalition with the Greens.
The previous centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens coalition government decided to shut down Germany's nuclear power stations by 2021. Back in September (2010) Chancellor Merkel's coalition abandoned those plans and announced that it would extend the life of the country's nuclear reactors by an average of 12 years.This decision very unpopular in Germany well before the radioactive leaks at the Fukushima plant.
After Fukushima, Mrs Merkel promptly scrapped her extension plan, and rapidly announced a review of the German nuclear industry.Basically as a result of this review, seven of Germany's oldest reactors (which were taken off-line for a safety review immediately after the Japanese crisis) will never be used again. An eighth plant is already off-line and has been repeatedly plagued by technical problems will also be closed down. Six other plants will go off-line by 2021 at the latest and the three newest plants by 2022.
Germany has relied on nuclear power for 23% of its energy needs. The plan is to actually reduce electricity use by 10% over the next ten years with far more efficient machinery and buildings and also the plan is to generate home grown green energy jobs and technologies. There will be an increase in the amount of wind generated energy and a re-orientation of Germany's electricity distribution system because much of the extra wind power would come from farms on the North Sea to replace atomic power stations in the south.