It's official now: Germany is on course to become a nuclear-free nation.
German Parliament Votes to End Use of Nuclear Power
The German parliament, the Bundestag, last week [on June 30, 2011] passed a package of laws that commits the world's fourth-largest economy to shutting down all of its nuclear power plants and ending its use of nuclear energy by 2022.
The vote was an overwhelming 513 to 79. Ironically, many of the "no" votes came from Left Party members, who felt the 11-year timeline was too long and argued for phasing out nuclear energy more quickly.
Vote Validates German Anti-Nuke Movement
The decision was a victory for Germany's 40-year-old anti-nuclear movement, which started in the 1970s and led to creation of the German Green Party.
Anti-Nuclear Decision May Have Mixed Results
Germany's decision to phase out nuclear power is not a complete victory for environmentalists, however, at least not in the short-term.
By ending its use of nuclear energy, Germany will have to rely more heavily on fossil fuels until it is able to expand its use of renewable energy enough to close the gap left by abandoning its nuclear reactors. Energy providers in Germany also could end up buying nuclear-generated power from neighboring countries like France to make up the shortfall, although Chancellor Angela Merkel has advised against that strategy.
Renewable Energy to Replace Nuclear Power in Germany
By the time the last nuclear plant closes in 2022, Germany expects to double its use of renewable energy to 35 percent of its total energy supply by combining aggressive expansion of wind, solar, biomass, hydro and geothermal power and conservation efforts to make buildings and communities more energy-efficient.