Germany Gets Greener As It Abandons Nuclear Power

Many of us watched in horror as the double tragedy of earthquake and tsunami hit Japan earlier this year. The disabled nuclear power plant at Fukushima reached levels of meltdown that haven’t been seen since the days of the Chernobyl disaster.

But while the rest of the world briefly discussed the possibilities of moving away from this controversial power source, only Germany has made real plans about its nuclear future. The government has announced that all remaining nuclear power plants will be put out of commission by the year 2022.

The first nuclear power plants were opened in Germany in the 1950s. During this half a century, the country experienced three near-catastrophes that resulted from problems with the reactor.

The first was in 1975 in Greifswald, East Germany. A fire brought about by an electrical error came close to causing a meltdown after the main coolant pumps were destroyed. Two other calamities occurred in the 1980s.

In 1986 in Hamm-Uentrop, a broken fuel rod led to the release of an excess of radiation, which contaminated the surrounding area.

And again in 1987, a stop valve malfunctioned at Biblis Nuclear Power Plant in Hesse and released more harmful radiation.

Of course, the disaster at Chernobyl was one of the worst for Germany, despite the fact it didn’t even happen within German borders! While the meltdown occurred in modern-day Ukraine (then a part of the USSR), Germany was just downwind from this catastrophe. In some areas of southern Germany, it is still possible to find traces of radioactivity in the mushrooms or in some wild animals.

Currently, Germany has 17 nuclear power plants, which provide about 25% of the country’s energy. Seven of the oldest reactors have already been shut down because of safety concerns. These power plants will be replaced by newer renewable-energy technology that will not emit greenhouse gases, which places Germany in the forefront of green countries.

Many believe that Germany could provide the “road map” that will enable other nations to give up the risky nuclear reactor system for something more environmentally-friendly.

In addition to the news about nuclear power, which was greeted with happiness and applause by many staunch environmentalists, Chancellor Angela Merkel also promised to reduce the carbon emissions of her nation by 40% in the same ten-year time period.

So in the next decade, all eyes will be on Germany to see how well it adapts to an economy and environment with clean energy and new cutting-edge technologies.

The future will be an exciting place for us! :-)

—Marcus

 

5 Responses to “Germany Gets Greener As It Abandons Nuclear Power”

  1. Albert Gazeley (2 comments) says:

    A wonderful idea and hats off to Germany for showing the world the way. But for most countries it is easier said than done. This is a quick reply from my iPod .. And I will comment more from my computer later.

  2. bonnie (1 comments) says:

    Yeh Germany seem to be leading the way.

    The mass anti-nuclear protests in Germany following the Fukushima crisis probably helped.

    The seven oldest reactors are already offline never to be used again. That was really quick action. I’ll bet they wish their cucumber action was as succesful *cough*.

    Even the newest ones are planned to go offline within a decade, that’s pretty impressive considering these are new reactors pumping out a lot of the countries energy.

    Hats off to Germany on this one.

  3. Becca (2 comments) says:

    I was actually reading an in-flight magazine about 2 German towns/cities which are fully powered by solar energy. I thought that was absolutely amazing! We should definitely be harnessing natural energy. The sun is around in most countries, yet in countries famous for having sun all year round such as Australia, it hasn’t really been harnessed. I also think water could be harnessed more efficiently now than previously.

  4. Ann (34 comments) says:

    This is so wonderful! Everyone talks about being green, but no one is doing anything on a grand scale like this and it is SO important! I’m really excited to see how Germany will harness the wind, water, and solar energy. Lead the way, Germany so that the rest may follow!

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