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Germany to Shut Down all 17 Nuclear Reactors by 2022

Germany is turning its back on nuclear power. In a dramatic policy reversal, Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced all seventeen of the country’s nuclear power plants will be shut down by 2022. Much of the decision has to do with the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan.

E.ON's Isar nuclear reactor in Bavaria. (Photo: Bjoern Schwarz)

France 24 reports that Germany’s center-right ruling coalition wants to keep the country’s eight oldest nuclear plants, seven of which were temporarily closed in the wake of the Fukushima incident this March, permanently shuttered. Six more will go offline by 2021, and the remaining three– the newest– will remain operational until 2022.

“It’s definite: the latest end for the last three nuclear power plants is 2022,” environment minister Norbert Roettgen told France 24.

The decision marks a stunning reversal of government policy. Little more than two months ago, Merkel’s coalition government announced it would prolong the lives of Germany’s aging nuclear power plants. It was an unpopular decision; the majority of Germans are against nuclear power.

But the announcement will certainly be met with great opposition  from the corporations that operate the plants. Utility giants RWE, E.ON, Vattenfall and EnBw are sure to challenge the decision.

Recent figures show Germany got 23% of its power from nuclear reactors.

The nuclear issue has negatively affected pro-nuclear politicians in recent elections. In conservative Baden-Wuerttemberg, Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) were booted from power in one of their bastion states when the Greens defeated them in a March election in which the Fukushima disaster loomed large.

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