Is europe shutting down nuclear power plants?

Germany is taking steps to shut down its three remaining nuclear power plants this year amid concerns about technology safety. With Europe fighting for alternatives to Russian fossil fuels, Germany's insistence on pursuing a plan to shut down the remaining three nuclear power plants by the end of this year baffles many outside the country.

Is europe shutting down nuclear power plants?

Germany is taking steps to shut down its three remaining nuclear power plants this year amid concerns about technology safety. With Europe fighting for alternatives to Russian fossil fuels, Germany's insistence on pursuing a plan to shut down the remaining three nuclear power plants by the end of this year baffles many outside the country. Germany is shutting down three more nuclear power plants, almost half of its remaining nuclear capacity, despite energy prices soaring and the country struggles to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. Dries believes that the share of nuclear energy in Europe's energy mix will continue to decline, even if plans for proposed plants in the Czech Republic and Poland go ahead.

The government of the Czech Republic also has plans to build at least two new nuclear reactors, while the Polish government wants to build the country's first nuclear reactor in a bid to move away from its heavy dependence on coal. Shutdowns occur when Europe faces one of the worst energy crises in its history and when nuclear energy, once again, gains support, as it produces significantly less carbon dioxide. According to the World Nuclear Association, nuclear energy does not produce greenhouse gas emissions during its operation and during its life cycle, it has carbon emissions similar to those of wind energy. Public sentiment aside, increasing nuclear energy takes time, something that Europe does not have in its plan to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.

Critics of Germany's nuclear plan have pointed to the contradiction of abandoning nuclear power while the country's coal-fired power plants continue to pump enormous quantities of carbon dioxide and deadly particles into the atmosphere. Europe's attitude to nuclear energy is divided between drivers and detractors, and each country makes its own turn to technology. The International Energy Agency considers nuclear energy to be an “essential basis of the energy transition”, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe called last year the elimination of nuclear energy a “setback for efforts to combat climate change”. That disaster, and concerns about the disposal of nuclear waste, also accelerated Germany's nuclear shutdown.

The World Nuclear Association, a group in the nuclear industry, recognizes the unequal focus on nuclear energy in IEA and EU plans. The closure of three plants comes as Europe faces one of the worst energy crises in its history and support for nuclear energy, as a low-carbon energy, is increasing once again. The IEA plan recommends keeping existing nuclear power plants in operation, while the EU plan makes no explicit reference to nuclear energy. Germany will close three nuclear power plants on Friday, as part of the country's phasing out of nuclear energy.

The deficit in nuclear generation in the United Kingdom was covered by electricity from gas power plants and imports from Europe.

Nanette Thrun
Nanette Thrun

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