Germany Closes 7 Aging Nuclear Plants as EU Calls for Nuclear Plant Stress Tests

Germany has temporarily shut down seven nuclear power plants that began operating before 1980, and the government has promised to study ways to  speed up the adoption of renewable energy in the wake of the catastrophic events in Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power stations. After an emergency meeting of senior energy officials and industry representatives on Tuesday, European Union members have agreed to conduct earthquake “stress tests” of nuclear plants across the EU. Besides seismic activity, threats from tsunamis, terrorism, technical failures and heatwaves will be examined.

“The unthinkable has occurred”
On Monday, EU energy commissioner Günther Oettinger stated about the situation in Japan: “The unthinkable has occurred. Energy policy faces a fundamental new beginning.” The stress tests  — which are not compulsory but were not opposed — are expected to be conducted in the second half of 2011.

The seven plants to be closed at least through June produce one-third of Germany’s nuclear energy. The plant closures come after German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered safety checks on the country’s nuclear power stations. This past weekend, tens of thousands protested Germany government plans to extend the life of 17 aging nuclear plants for an additional 12 years. As a result, the German government announced a three-month delay in its decision to keep the 17 nuclear stations open. Nuclear energy provides 25% of Germany’s electricity.

France Stands Firm
France is participating in a safety check but has no immediate plans to draw back from nuclear, which supplies 75% of the country’s energy — the highest percentage of any country. French Prime Minister Francois Fillon noted, “What strength earthquake can our reactors survive? What level of flooding can they deal with? We will check all of this, and we will do so with total transparency. It’s just as absurd to say that nuclear energy is condemned by this accident as to say that it does not concern us.”

Energy Secretary Chu Reassures Congress
U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu told Congress on Tuesday that nuclear power needs to be an important part of the country’s energy policy, stating, “The American people should have full confidence that the United States has rigorous safety regulations in place to ensure that our nuclear power is generated safely and responsibly.”

In 2008 the average age of the world 400+ nuclear power plants was 24; the average lifetime of the plants is around 40 years. In the U.S., 20% of energy is suppled by nuclear power. 

An Uncertain Future Is Certain
Nuclear energy has been touted as a viable alternative to fossil fuel-based energy, with its atmosphere-damaging carbon emissions. The Japanese situation is sure to put the brakes on efforts to ramp up nuclear as a viable alternative to coal and gas-powered energy. Renewable energy technologies, including wind, solar, wave and geothermal, account for only a small percentage of world energy generation. One thing seems certain: hardships lie ahead, and we will need multi-pronged, flexible and focused approaches to meeting the world’s energy needs for decades to come.


Photo: Nuclear power plant in Grohnde, Germany
By Heinz-Josef Lücking (own work / eigenes Bild) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Paulo Reeson
Paulo Rabout a month ago


Paulo Reeson
Paulo Rabout a month ago


William C
William C1 years ago


W. C
W. C1 years ago

Thank you for the article.

Alsia T.
Past Member 4 years ago

The blog is good enough, keep up writing such type of posts. nuclear weapons world map

Klas K.
Klas K.7 years ago

The problem does not lie within closing agening nuclear plants - that is a good thing.
BUT we NEED to replace those with something, and wind solar does not cut it (that is a fact!)

So for now, the slack will be taken up by CO" emitting sources (coal, fossil gas and, for a while, oil). So unless we start building new nuclear plants now we will add even more pollution to our environment by closing the agening nuclear plants immediately.
And do remember that coal for instance adds not only co2 but mercury and radiactive isotopes as well to the athmosphere - killing about 150 people per GWh


Ruth R.
Ruth R7 years ago

Yes, the U.S.A. needs to close aging nuclear energy plants.

Cristian Prisacariu
Past Member 7 years ago

We should all follow Germany and choose alternative energy solutions and close nuclear power plants.

Marielle L.
Ma L7 years ago

Hmm good question, I think politics has become a mind game disconnected from real life and we are just to be the pawns in their game...but who feeds he kings!-- it is he peasants!
Do I need to say any more???!!!!!

Janine H.
Janine H7 years ago

This is a good story. Hopefully they will be off. And hopefully others and other countries will follow. But why has always have to happen something terrible to learn? Are we so stupid?

"We" destroy everything around us and "we" forget, that everything is important to survive, too.

As little child i thought that rain is when God and the angels cry - because "we" humans have forgotten that we need this "intelligence", someone who could help... if "we" hadn't turned away for many centuries ago...

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten." (Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)