Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Germany to go nuclear free

The German government has announced it intends to shut all its nuclear plants by 2022.

It intends to become a 'trail blazer' for renewable sources of energy.

At present nuclear energy provides 23% of Germany's total energy needs.

The change in policy comes against a background of Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster and pressure created by a powerful anti-nuclear movement in Germany.

The move has been widely welcomed, though not by everyone.

The utility companies are threatening legal action and have warned the phasing out of Germany's reliance on nuclear power will lead to winter black-outs.

This has been dismissed by the German government, who are planning their own green new deal, with massive investment  in more solar, wind and hydroelectric power.

At present Germany employs around 370,000 in the renewable energy sector. This is expected to increase significantly. As Chancellor Angela Merkal said:

"We believe that we can show those countries who decide to abandon nuclear power - or not to start using it - how it is possible to achieve growth, creating jobs and economic prosperity while shifting the energy supply toward renewable energies."

The counter argument is that whatever its dangers, the benefits of nuclear power outweighs them and help reduces the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the warming the planet, causing floods, droughts and rising sea levels.

With more nuclear power plants planned in this country, we are led to believe that there is simply no alternative. There is a political consensus that nuclear power is intrinsic to meeting Britain's energy needs.

The issue has even divided stalwarts of the environmental movement, like George Monbiot and Caroline Lucas.

However, if an environmentally conscious country like Germany can decide to end its nuclear porgramme, and in a way that will create jobs and economic growth, isn't it time for policy makers here to start having a serious debate about our reliance on nuclear power, instead of just dismissing it?