Posted by Suzanna Hinson

Germanys oldest nuclear power station, the Grafenrheinfeld reactor, which had been providing energy since 1981, has been shut down. It is the latest closure in Germany’s plan to switch off all its nuclear power plants by 2022. The move was made in response to the Fukushima disaster in Japan, which – despite killing no one – has done much to put the world off nuclear power. This overreaction to an imagined threat of radiation has lead to real threats to energy security and climate change mitigation, not only within Germany but across Europe. In 2011, when Angela Merkel’s affinity for nuclear came to an abrupt end, the country’s reactors provided 25% of Germany’s energy. The supposed replacement has been a huge push for renewables, with an aim of 80% renewable electricity by 2050. But with renewable consistency challenges, and a long timescale of realization, Germany is having to plug the gaping gap left by nuclear closures, and it has had little choice but to turn to fossil fuels – especially coal. Not only does this have huge implications for air quality, and climate change targets within Germany and across Europe, it will also have knock on political effects across Europe. Germany’s influence may put others off nuclear power, to the detriment of the entire continent.

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