Germany Gets Greener As It Abandons Nuclear Power
Filed in Politics
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.
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! :-)
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