The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out
- BBH - Becker Büttner Held energy law firm
- BfS - Federal Office for Radiation Protection
- BMU - Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety
- BMWi - Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy
- BUND - Friends of the Earth Germany
- DIW - German Institute for Economic Research
Q&A: Why is Germany phasing-out nuclear power and why now?
Germany’s energy transition is not only its main means for decarbonising the economy and creating an industrialised nation fed by renewable electricity to reach a 2045 climate neutrality target. The country’s famous Energiewende has also always been marked as an example to other countries of how such a transition is possible. But there is one aspect of it that is widely causing wonder and sometimes disbelieve: the nuclear phase-out. Why, at a time when emissions from fossil energy sources have to be reduced as fast as possible - and renewable energy sources such as wind and solar PV cannot (yet) support the country’s electricity needs – is Germany discontinuing the use of nuclear power, which is low in CO2. What are the reasons, repercussions, and benefits of this and how will it affect the country’s CO2 footprint, energy mix and supply security?
Read the Q&A here.
What to do with the nuclear waste – the storage question
Germany is in the rare position of knowing almost exactly how much radioactive waste it will have to store because the lifespan of its nuclear reactors is limited and the existing amount of waste is established. But questions over where to store it and how long it will take to load a final repository remain unanswered. [UPDATES explanation of how the search process for a final repository is conducted]
Read the factsheet here.
The history behind Germany's nuclear phase-out
The nuclear phase-out is as much part of the Energiewende (energy transition) as the move towards a low-carbon economy. Despite ongoing quarrels over its costs and an international perception that “German angst” caused the government to shut down reactors after the Fukushima accident, a majority of Germans is still in favour of putting an end to nuclear power.
Read the factsheet here.
Pulling the plug on nuclear
The question is no longer whether Germany’s future will be nuclear-free – or even when, since the government is committed to completing the phase-out by 2022. But the logistics of pulling the plug on what was until recently one of the country’s primary sources of power are proving an immense challenge for this part of the country's Energiewende. Legal hurdles, decommissioning technicalities and above all the question where to store the radioactive waste and who will pay for it all, are the main issues at hand.
Read the article (from 2015) here.