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Germany dumps nuclear; opts for green power plants

Chancellor backtracks on nuke power projects to push green agenda

German chancellor Angela Merkel - not a fan of nuclear power anymore. Photo: Getty.
German chancellor Angela Merkel - not a fan of nuclear power anymore. Photo: Getty.

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Germany is to close all of its nuclear power plants by 2022, placing a heavier reliance on renewable energy sources for its future power demand.

The announcement comes in the wake of the Fukushima plant disaster in Japan in February, and as the result of a report in to the status of the country’s nuclear power network.

Eight power stations will be switched off this year, and the remaining nine will be phased out of operation by 2022.

The decision comes after Chancellor Angela Merkel backtracked in March on an unpopular decision just months earlier to extend the life of ageing nuclear stations in Germany, where the majority of voters oppose atomic energy.

“We want the electricity of the future to be safer and at the same time reliable and affordable,” Merkel told reporters.

“That means we must have a new approach to the supply network, energy efficiency, renewable energy and also long-term monitoring of the process,” she added.

To guard against shortages during the switch to renewable energy, one or two of the existing reactors will remain on standby this winter.

The push in to renewable energy sources is expected to press Germany to the forefront of green energy development. By 2021 more than 35% of the country’s power will be produced from renewable sources.

Germany’s decision to dump nuclear power comes just as the UAE is forging ahead with its plans to build 2,000MW in nuclear reactors. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have also expressed an interest in nuclear power plants.

Earlier this year, DEWA MD and CEO HH Saeed Mohammad Al-Tayer said that Dubai planned to obtain almost a quarter of its power from nuclear and clean coal by 2030.

“By 2030, 12% of our power will come from nuclear, either through importing from our neighbours or by building our own plant, and another 12% from clean coal,” Al-Tayer said, adding that a further 5% will be derived from renewable energy.

Dubai aims to build at least 2,000MW of nuclear reactors by 2030, while DEWA itself will have 9,800MW in hand by next year.

According to the European Nuclear Society, there are 442 nuclear power plants in operation around the world, generating a combined output of 374,958MW. There are also 65 new nuclear power plants under construction that will, once operational, produce 62,862MW. China is by far the most active country, with 27 nuclear plants being built.

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Construction Week - Issue 758
Feb 08, 2020