On Monday, 30 May 2011, Germany issued an official declaration that it would close all its nuclear power plants by 2022, which at that time produced 23 % of Germany's total energy production. The statement came exactly two and a half months after the temporary closure of seven older nuclear power plants, following the accident at the Fukushima I power plant on 11 March 2011. Does Germany plan to close all its nuclear power plants only because of fears of a nuclear disaster in a country that is not suffering from an earthquake, tsunami, or typhoon?
Germany began using nuclear energy as early as the 1950s, and from 1969 began commercially producing electricity from nuclear power. The anti-nuclear movement has been strong in Germany since then and achieved its first great success in the 1970s by suspending plans to build a nuclear power plant in Wyhl. In East Germany, which was under Soviet rule at the time, construction work began in full swing. East Germany owned large uranium deposits and for a while even took fourth place as the largest uranium producer in the world.
The main turning point came after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident on April 26, 1986. This event gave the anti-nuclear energy movement and the Green Party an excuse to take stronger dissent. For example, the unification of East and West Germany was conditioned by the closure of all nuclear power plants in the Eastern bloc. The Green Party gained strength and even formed a coalition with the Social Democrats in the 1990s. Their goal was to close all nuclear power plants by 2021. In 2005, however, right-wing Angela Merkel took power, announcing on September 6, 2010, the intention to extend the life of nuclear power plants by an average of 12 years.
Angela Merkel's intention to extend the life of nuclear power plants did not add her popularity, and the deteriorating election results had to be offset somewhere. The Fukushima I nuclear accident was the right catalyst. Just a day after the disaster, strong demonstrations took place all over Germany. The decision to immediately close the older power plant and close the newer ones within 11 years was a 180-degree turn.
Germany has thus prepared the ground for the production of energy from renewable sources, but also at the cost of increasing the production of energy from lignite-fired power plants. By doing so, it has not only failed to meet its commitment to 2020 under the Paris Agreement, but has also increased mortality and significantly worsened the health of citizens living in the vicinity of these power plants.