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Nuclear power extended in Germany

Author : Amy Hollamby

24 September 2010

Germany's coalition government has decided to extend the life span of the country's nuclear power plants by an average of 12 years, so that some plants remain in production until the 2030s. The coalition leader also agreed to an annual £1.9 billion tax on energy suppliers who use nuclear fuel rods to generate power. However, the tax will be limited to a six-year period following objections from industry bosses.

Nuclear power extended in Germany
Nuclear power extended in Germany

This money would then go towards the further development of renewable energy in the country.

This surprising decision by the coalition is in spite of the previous German government having deciding in 2000 to shut down all of Germany’s nuclear power stations by 2020, and the fact that most Germans support an end to nuclear power production. Opposition parties and environmentalists are firmly against the changes, which could lead to thousands of tonnes of additional atomic waste, and with it, the problem of where and how to store it.

Despite widespread concern regarding the safety risk of nuclear power, the use of renewables is not viable as it is not yet developed enough. Until this time nuclear energy will be needed as an alternative to carbon based energy generation to ensure continuity of supply.

A government-commissioned report said that without nuclear power Germany can forget its target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80% of 1990 levels in 2050. However, opposition groups have criticised the report as proof of the coalition government caving in to the country's powerful nuclear lobby.

At present Germany has 17 active nuclear reactors, which account for 22.6% ofthe electricity generated in the country.

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