The last nuclear power plants in Germany go offline
After six decades, the era of nuclear power is ending in Germany. The last three remaining nuclear power plants Isar 2 in Bavaria, Neckarwestheim in Baden-Württemberg and Emsland in Lower Saxony will be taken off the grid by midnight at the latest on Saturday. FDP leader Christian Lindner considers a comeback of nuclear power in this country “not a realistic idea”.
The head of the energy supplier PreussenElektra, Guido Knott, said that the end of electricity production from nuclear energy was “a very emotional act” for the employees at the Isar 2 site. The idea that the system “doesn’t come back to the grid is difficult for the colleagues”. The manager of the power plant, Carsten Müller, spoke of a “last difficult step” to finally take the plant off the grid.
In the past few weeks “we’ve had a lot of encouragement and support,” said Müller. He was very pleased that so many people “positioned themselves” in favor of nuclear energy again.
The environmental movement, on the other hand, celebrated the end of nuclear power. According to the BUND, a total of more than 2,300 people came together at the Odeonsplatz in Munich, at the nuclear power plant in Neckarwestheim and at the fuel element factory in Lingen; There were also actions in Hamburg, Hanover and Freiburg. According to BUND, the participants also wanted to set a “sign for the final phase-out of nuclear power”.
In Berlin, according to Greenpeace, 200 to 300 opponents of nuclear power gathered at the Brandenburg Gate, where the organization had set up a symbolically hunted down “Atomdino”. The head of Greenpeace Germany, Martin Kaiser, celebrated the shutdown of the last nuclear power plants in Germany as a “huge success” in 40 years of the anti-nuclear movement.
In surveys over the past few days, a majority of Germans had spoken out against the exit at this point in time. The nuclear phase-out should actually have taken place at the turn of the year. Due to feared bottlenecks in the energy supply against the background of the Ukraine conflict, the federal government decided to postpone the shutdown by three and a half months.
FDP boss Lindner told the television station Welt-TV on Friday evening that he wanted to leave the three nuclear power plants in reserve instead of dismantling them. In addition, Germany should “keep open the possibility of nuclear fusion, research here and also enable applications”.
Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) confirmed in the ARD “Tagesthemen” his call to examine a return to the use of nuclear energy. “We need every scrap of energy.” BUND boss Olaf Bandt called on the federal government on Saturday to “finally” push ahead with an ambitious, environmentally friendly expansion of renewable energies in Germany.
After the power plants have been disconnected from the grid and nuclear fission has stopped, the reactors first have to be further cooled. In the days after the shutdown, the 193 fuel elements per power plant are taken from the reactor core to water-filled storage pools.
After that, the dismantling of the systems can gradually begin. After a cooldown period, the fuel elements are taken to interim storage facilities for nuclear waste at the power plant sites. However, it may take a number of years or even decades before there is a “green meadow”.
Former Federal Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin (Greens) called for more speed in the search for a repository for nuclear waste. “Planning acceleration would really be appropriate here,” Trittin told the editorial network Germany.
An open-ended and transparent search is required by law. For this purpose, various possible locations throughout Germany are compared in a “science-based and transparent” process. The search should be completed by 2027 if possible, after which another ten to twelve years are scheduled for exploring possible locations.