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Germany shuts three of its last six nuclear power plants

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Germany has shut down three of its last six nuclear power plants, bringing the country’s nuclear power withdrawal to a close as it shifts its focus to renewables.

Following Japan’s Fukushima reactor meltdown in 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami destroyed the coastal plant in the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986, the government decided to accelerate the phase-out of nuclear power.

E. ON and RWE’s Brokdorf, Grohnde, and Gundremmingen C reactors were shut down late Friday after three and a half decades of operation. By the end of 2022, the last three nuclear power plants – Isar 2, Emsland, and Neckarwestheim II – will be shut down.

Preussen Elektra, which operates the Brokdorf and Grohnde plants, announced on Saturday that the two had been shut down shortly before midnight on Friday. RWE stated that the Gundremmingen C plant also shut down on Friday evening. Preussen Elektra CEO Guido Knott thanked staff for their commitment to safety: “We have made a decisive contribution to the secure, climate-friendly and reliable supply of electricity in Germany for decades.”

The phase-out of a clean and cheap energy source, according to some, is an irreversible step for Europe’s largest economy, even as it faces ambitious climate targets and rising power prices.

According to preliminary data, the six nuclear power plants contributed approximately 12% of Germany’s electricity production in 2021. Renewable energy accounted for nearly 41 percent of total energy generation, with coal accounting for just under 28 percent and gas accounting for around 15 percent.

Germany intends to expand wind and solar power infrastructure to meet 80 percent of power demand by 2030.Japan’s government laid out a plan on Tuesday to release contaminated water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea, infuriating neighbors China and South Korea.