Nuclear phase-out

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The smiling sun with the inscription Atomkraft? No thanks in the respective national language is considered the most famous logo of the international anti-nuclear movement

The political decision of a state to discontinue the operation of nuclear power plants and to forego nuclear energy for electricity generation is referred to as nuclear phase-out , also nuclear power phase-out or nuclear waiver . Italy has so far completely phased out the generation of atomic energy, while other countries such as Germany , Belgium and Switzerland have announced or initiated a nuclear phase-out. Austria took its completed Zwentendorf nuclear power plant back in 1978 after a referendum not in operation, other countries canceled some of the nuclear programs that had advanced to a great extent.

The nuclear phase-out is an important part of the energy transition ; However, this is much broader and provides for the complete conversion to renewable energies and the complete abandonment of conventional energy sources ( nuclear fuels as well as fossil fuels ) in the long term .

On the concept of phasing out and renouncing nuclear power

On the one hand, the term can mean the decision to shut down existing nuclear power plants when certain conditions occur or at a certain future point in time, or the process or period in which this decision is implemented. As soon as a country imports electricity, it imports an electricity mix that may or may not contain nuclear power.

The term “nuclear phase-out” emerged as a political catchphrase in the anti-nuclear power movement in Germany.

Power plants were already in operation in Germany at that time. The nuclear phase-out has been called for since around the mid-1970s. In 1978, when Austria decided to go into operation at Zwentendorf and thus completely renounced its own atomic energy, people in Austria spoke specifically of "atom-free" . After the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, more people - also in other European countries - called for nuclear exits in their countries.

Especially in Germany the expression means - as a political term:

  1. the agreement reached in 2000 between the red-green federal government and the four German nuclear power plant operators to shut down German nuclear power plants after generating certain amounts of electricity (also known as the " atomic consensus ") or
  2. the decision of the German Bundestag on June 30, 2011 to reverse the extension of the service life decided in autumn 2010, to shut down eight nuclear power plants permanently and to shut down the remaining nine permanently at the latest at certain times ( thirteenth law amending the Atomic Energy Act (AtG) ). Chancellor Angela Merkel decided this turnaround in nuclear policy (details see below) one day after the start of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima (Japan) in March 2011, and later also her cabinet, the Bundestag and the Bundesrat.


The civil use of nuclear power in power plants began in the mid-1950s (1954 Obninsk nuclear power plant , Soviet Union; 1956 Calder Hall nuclear power plant , Great Britain). Initially, the peaceful use of nuclear energy was widely accepted by society and nuclear power plants were promoted as a safe, economical and environmentally friendly way of generating electricity . From the 1970s, anti-nuclear movements became increasingly important. They point in particular to the risks and possible consequences of a nuclear accident ( GAU , worst-case scenario), threats to people and the environment in the vicinity of nuclear power plants ( radioactivity , ionizing radiation ) and the problem of radioactive waste , which for millennia safely disposed of are have to go. The meltdown in Three Mile Island in 1979 (USA) uncovered weaknesses in the safety-related design; the 1986 Chernobyl accident (USSR) turned into a nuclear disaster and caused many countries not to build new nuclear power plants.

When countries shut down their nuclear power plants, they either have to import more energy, produce more electricity in alternative ways, and / or reduce their electricity consumption. A slow nuclear phase-out is chosen in order to set up other plants for energy generation in the meantime. In addition to fossil fuels , the alternatives to nuclear energy that are most frequently considered are wind turbines , hydropower stations , solar energy , geothermal energy and energy from biomass, as well as energy saving (i.e. measures that reduce the amount of energy consumed).

Until 2011, in some countries the decision to withdraw was delayed or the decision to withdraw was completely revised. In Germany, this was discussed under term extension , exit from exit and necessary bridging technology . News of breakdowns, incidents , uncovered cover-ups led to a further loss of confidence; The final disposal issue, which has not been resolved for over 50 years, and ultimately the catastrophe in four Japanese reactor blocks in Fukushima Daichi in 2011 have so changed the view of the remaining risk that the exit was politically decided. Little was reported about the sister nuclear facility, Fukushima Daini, which was also built around 12 km south with 4 blocks and also suffered severe damage but did not lead to a nuclear disaster. The blatant deficiencies in the safety-related design played no role in the assessment of the residual risk, nor did the fact that a high level of safety can significantly reduce the residual risk, while the effects of an uncontrollable disaster were well known even before Fukushima.

Arguments and implications

Radioactivity and accident risks

What are the safest and cleanest sources of energy?
137 Cs contamination in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine ten years after the Chernobyl disaster

Proponents of the nuclear phase-out mostly argue with the avoidance of radioactive radiation and nuclear accidents. In accidents such as those that happened in Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima (2011) , radioactive substances leaked and contaminated large areas of land. At the same time many people were in different severe extent in the affected areas contaminated by radiation and thus experienced a significantly higher radiation exposure than in nature usual. Cancer can occur as a long-term consequence of high radiation exposure . However, since it is difficult to quantify the extent to which the additional radiation exposure caused by nuclear accidents is the cause of additional illnesses, the numbers mentioned fluctuate very strongly, especially in the case of civilian casualties. Even with the liquidators , as they were deployed by the hundreds of thousands to build the sarcophagus after the Chernobyl disaster, it is difficult to make precise statements on this. 63 dead liquidators are considered certain. In addition, the numbers are very different. While z. For example, the IAEA and WHO assume around 4,000 deaths in the long term, the Ukrainian Commission for Radiation Protection names 34,499 rescue workers who have died, and the nuclear-critical committee of the International Doctors for the Prevention of Nuclear War ( IPPNW ) estimates 50,000 to 100,000 deaths in the long term. Some voices even assume almost 1.5 million deaths.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry headed by Johannes Lelieveld calculated that a core meltdown in one of the 440 reactors available around the world (as of 2012) can be expected every ten to twenty years . The probability of occurrence would thus be around a factor of 200 higher than estimates by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) assumed in 1990. The world's highest risk of radioactive contamination, which is considered to be fulfilled at 40 kilobecquerels of radioactivity per square meter, would therefore be borne by southwest Germany, due to the high density of reactors there, as well as in France and Belgium. In the event of a core meltdown in Western Europe, an average of 28 million people would be affected by contamination with more than 40 kilobecquerels per square meter, in South Asia even around 34 million people.

As part of the EUROCLUS study , four cancer clusters near nuclear power plants were identified out of a total of 240 cancer clusters in 17 countries. Proximity to nuclear power plants is not a common feature of the cancer clusters.

In October 2012, the results of a stress test that the EU had carried out after the Fukushima disaster became known. Most European nuclear power plants therefore have significant safety gaps. In some of the power plants, not even the retrofits that were agreed upon after the 1979 Harrisburg disaster and the 1986 Chernobyl disaster had taken place. This was especially true for Fukushima Daichi. Defects were discovered in twelve of 19 German nuclear power plant units, such as B. adequate earthquake measurement systems. Some nuclear power plants are also designed (too) weakly against earthquakes . Overall, German nuclear power plants ranked in the upper half of the plants examined, behind some Eastern European power plants. Nuclear power plants performed particularly poorly in France; Northern European power plants were also criticized. So stayed z. For example, the operating teams at the Forsmark nuclear power plant in Sweden and in the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant in Finland have less than an hour to restore an interrupted power supply to maintain the essential reactor cooling. Overall, the EU predicts that the retrofitting of nuclear power plants will or would cost between 10 and 25 billion euros.

Environmental groups sharply criticized the stress test and called for the power plants in question to be shut down. Most of the stress test took place on paper; only a few power plants have actually been examined. In addition, certain risks such as the risk of terrorist attacks or plane crashes have been completely disregarded; only the resistance to extreme natural events and the control of accidents resulting from them were examined.

nuclear waste

The problem of safe long-term disposal for radioactive waste is largely unsolved and a completely conclusive concept is not available. One of the questionable disposal methods was, for example, the sinking of nuclear waste barrels in the oceans: between 1946 and 1993, nuclear waste was dumped in at least 80 places in the ocean. Continuing operation for a limited period instead of switching it off would only insignificantly increase the mass to be disposed of.

Uranium mining

Uranium mining, like here in the Ranger uranium mine in Australia, is causing severe environmental pollution and illness among workers

Further points of criticism concern the mining of uranium deposits . The uranium deposits are limited. The mining of uranium had in the past and now has partially devastating effects on the environment and the people living there.

Economy and insurance

Critics consider nuclear energy uneconomical because the high capital costs cannot be offset by the low fuel costs. In the past, expenses for the interim storage and final disposal of nuclear waste were often paid for by the taxpayer and not by the electricity companies that caused it.

In addition, the insufficient insurance of nuclear power plants is criticized. The operator is liable in unlimited amounts in the event of accidents (Section 31 (1) of the Atomic Energy Act ), but the potential damage in a super-disaster can amount to around 6,000 billion euros, which by far exceeds the financial possibilities of a private company. For comparison: In October 2011 - after the start of the Fukushima nuclear disaster - the Japanese Commission for Atomic Energy came to the conclusion that the repair of the damage caused by this disaster, including the dismantling of the reactors, would cost at least 50 billion euros; individual members of this commission forecast a significantly higher sum. A French government study in 2013 determined possible economic damage from an accident in a French nuclear power plant amounting to € 430 billion, which corresponds to a quarter of the country's economic output. In many other countries there is no insurance for nuclear power plants. In this extensive exemption from liability insurance, the two economists Peter Hennicke and Paul JJ Welfens see a hidden subsidy for the nuclear power industry, which “creates absurd investment incentives, grotesquely distorted competition in the power and energy industry and promotes completely unnecessary risks for billions of people”. In percentage terms, the “shadow subsidy” for nuclear power surpasses all other sectors of the economy.

An analysis by the Handelsblatt in 2015 came to the conclusion that nuclear power was "probably the largest and worst investment in the history of the Federal Republic".

A study by the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy on behalf of a North Rhine-Westphalian ministry predicts that a quick nuclear phase-out will increase the price of electricity for an average household by a maximum of 25 euros per year. Accelerated expansion of renewable energies could even enable lower electricity prices in the long term. Germanwatch came to a similar conclusion in May 2011. The economic benefits of renewable energies are significantly higher than the additional costs. In fact, between 2011 and 2021 there was an increase of just under 235 euros per year for a 3-person household.

A Spiegel article wrote in March 2011 that a nuclear phase-out by 2020 would cost around 48 billion euros. For comparison: According to the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety , investments will be made anyway in order to renew the power plant park and meet climate protection requirements. The energy companies announced in 2011 that they would be suing the Federal Republic for claims for damages amounting to billions. At the beginning of 2012, the electricity prices on the electricity exchange were similar to the previous year, before the nuclear moratorium came into force; in May 2012 they fell between 15.5% (futures market, peak load) and 32.2% (spot market peak load) compared to the same month of the previous year.

Threats to Peace and Security

Critics argue that it is impossible to effectively protect nuclear facilities from terrorist attacks. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 raised awareness around the world that terrorists could direct hijacked planes onto nuclear facilities. Nuclear power plants therefore harbor the risk of a devastating terrorist attack.

In addition, the civil use of nuclear energy has the potential to disseminate technical know-how and radioactive material to governments and terrorist groups who can misuse this material for military or terrorist purposes.

Displacement of renewable energies

In the course of years of discussion about the extension of the service life of German nuclear power plants , which was decided in 2010 and withdrawn in 2011, numerous institutions spoke up, complaining about the displacement of renewable energies by nuclear power.

  • According to an analysis by the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES), the expansion of renewable energies planned by the renewable energy industry for 2020 would only require 24.5 GW instead of the current 43.9 GW of base load from fossil or nuclear power plants . However, if the nuclear power plants were to remain on the grid, fossil-fuel power plants would also have to be switched off, although there is no legal basis for this. In fact, this would jeopardize the priority of renewable energies.
  • Extending the life of the nuclear power plant would be a "bad mistake" and would set renewable energies in Germany back by at least a decade, warned Christian Friege , CEO of the green electricity provider Lichtblick , in 2010 . As early as 2010, "too much inflexible base load " from lignite and nuclear power plants was clogging the power grid. Longer runtimes would lead to "the so important priority of renewable energies in electricity generation being called into question". In addition, the operators of the nuclear power plants could "defend their dominant position in electricity generation" with the additional profits. As a result, nuclear power is "not a bridging technology , but a technology to prevent the expansion of renewables".
  • In the opinion of the German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU), neither longer operating times for nuclear power plants nor new coal-fired power plants are necessary. The SRU warned that significant extensions of the runtime of the nuclear power plant would result in overcapacities in the system. Many conventional power plants are not compatible with renewable electricity generation in the long term, as their output cannot be adapted quickly enough to fluctuations in wind and solar energy (“load follow-up operation”). The permanent coexistence of conventional and growing renewable electricity generation would make the system inefficient and unnecessarily expensive. Prof. Dr. Olav Hohmeyer , member of the SRU, emphasized: “During the transition period, neither extensions of the operating times for nuclear power plants nor new coal-fired power plants are necessary. The bridge to renewable energies is already in place ”.
  • Albert Filbert, CEO of the regional utility HSE in Darmstadt, explained in the "Wirtschaftswoche" in 2010: "Nuclear power is not a bridging technology , but it slows down renewables." Filbert justifies his point of view with the investments of the municipal utilities in recent years, which are based on the nuclear phase-out would have oriented: "you have put in the renewable energy supply a lot of money, because this market segment was not of the generation oligopoly of the four major energy companies occupied." ( E.ON , RWE , EnBW , Vattenfall ) Would now the nuclear power plant operators preferred the market, that would be tantamount to devaluing these investments. Since the assertions that nuclear power would lower the price of electricity and that the lights would go out without it , Filbert concluded: "The correct way in terms of energy policy and competition law would be to adhere to the exit decision."

Security of supply and electricity imports

The Federal Network Agency stated in August 2011 that no nuclear power plant would be necessary as a cold reserve on standby in the upcoming winter in order to guarantee security of supply. A careful analysis of the power plant portfolio identified solid reserve capacities.

Nuclear power plants also need reserve energy. This case occurred in January 2012, for example, when one of the two active nuclear reactors at the Brunsbüttel nuclear power plant (output (net) 1,300 megawatts) had to be shut down unexpectedly because defective fuel elements had to be replaced. Other power plants compensated for this failure.

In addition, it was initially feared that the discontinued nuclear power production would primarily be replaced by imports of nuclear power from France or the Czech Republic, instead of domestic production of renewable energies. This did not come true: in the first half of 2011 (when six nuclear power plants were shut down as part of the nuclear moratorium ) almost 28 terawatt hours were exported and 24 terawatt hours were imported. The Institute for Applied Ecology came after an analysis to the conclusion that after the shutdown of the six German nuclear power plants, the current increased demand for the time being of other energy sources (esp. Coal and gas) were covered. The electricity flows between Germany and France changed for a few months (France exported 10.8 TWh and imported 8.4 TWh in 2011; France has been a net importer since 2012. In 2012, the country imported 8.7 terawatt hours from Germany). At peak load times, electricity from German photovoltaic systems is cheaper for France than from its own, often overloaded nuclear reactors. The “Center for Strategic Analyzes”, which is subordinate to the French government, came to the conclusion that the expansion of renewable energies in neighboring Germany not only safeguards climate protection but also the energy independence of the country.

A net surplus was also recorded in the second half of 2011, in which the nuclear power plants shut down due to the nuclear phase-out no longer contributed to electricity generation (also in 2011 as a whole). According to preliminary figures from the ENTSO-E, this amounted to approx. 6 TWh . The lower yield of the nuclear power plants of approx. 32 TWh was almost completely compensated for by lower exports (on balance 12 TWh less than in the previous year) and by the increased feed-in of renewable energies (+ 18 TWh compared to 2010). The seasonal fluctuation in the exchange of electricity is noticeable. According to figures from the AG Energiebilanzen, net exports after the third quarter were around 1.6 TWh. This resulted in net imports of electricity to Germany in the weaker summer, while net exports of around 4.5 TWh were recorded in the fourth quarter, which was in high demand.

Despite phasing out nuclear power, Germany exported more electricity in 2012 than ever before. According to data from the Working Group on Energy Balances, electricity exports rose to 23 billion kilowatt hours. That is almost four times as much as in 2011; the prices for the exported electricity were higher than the prices of the imported electricity. A slight electricity deficit last occurred in 2002. At that time, Germany had to buy 0.7 TWh abroad to cover its own supply. According to data from the working group, electricity generation from nuclear reactors in Germany fell to 99 billion kilowatt hours in 2012 and thus fell below the 100 billion mark for the first time in decades (2011: 108 billion kilowatt hours). Nuclear power thus contributed a sixth to Germany's electricity supply, while renewables covered 23 percent in 2012.

As the following table, which is based on data from entso-t, shows after the shutdown of eight German nuclear power plants in the winter of 2011/12 (with the exception of a strong increase in exports to Austria, which was offset by imports from Denmark and Sweden), only minor changes in the export balance. Electricity exports to France fell from 5 TWh to 4 TWh, while imports from the Czech Republic fell from 5.8 TWh to 4.7 TWh.

Country-specific comparison of Germany's net electricity exports in the 2010/11 and 2011/12 winters
Net export winter 2010/11 in TWh Net exports winter 2011/12 in TWh Change in TWh
DE-AT 1.68 11.97 10.29
DE-CH 4.09 3.32 −0.76
DE-CZ −5.76 −4.67 1.09
DE-FR 4.94 4.01 −0.94
DE-NL 4.07 3.07 −1.00
DE-SE 1.04 −1.70 −2.73
DE-DK 1.57 −3.54 −5.11
DE-PL −0.69 −1.59 −0.90
total 10.95 10.87 -0.07

In the first quarter of 2012, Germany also remained a net exporter of electricity every month; in the particularly cold February (despite the shutdown of nuclear power plants) even more electricity was exported net than in February 2011, when these power plants were still in operation. At the same time, the power grid remained stable during the cold spell, when the demand for electricity was particularly high, according to the transmission system operator. Germany remained an electricity exporter even during the morning peak load . The amount of electricity exported was around 150 to 170 GWh per day (a daily average of 6.25 to 7 GW, corresponding to 5 large nuclear reactors) and some of it flowed to France, which became a net importer of electricity due to its predominantly electrically heated housing stock. According to Tagesspiegel , France has been importing electricity from Germany during the winter for years.

In November 2012 it became known that Germany had exported more electricity than ever before in the first three quarters of the year. Accordingly, a balance of 12.3 TWh of electricity flowed abroad; In 2010, the year before a total of eight nuclear power plants were shut down, the figure was 8.8 TWh.

The study “Effects of the German nuclear phase-out on the exchange of electricity with neighboring countries”, published in 2013, examined the effects that the shutdown of nuclear power plants has on the exchange of electricity between the Federal Republic of Germany and its European neighbors. Accordingly, imports increased briefly in the spring and summer of 2011; this was mainly due to seasonal effects and long-planned power plant overhauls. It was also a strong year for hydropower in Sweden and Norway, with corresponding inexpensive electricity surpluses on the European market. The exit did not lead to a shortage of domestic power plant capacities.

A study commissioned by Greenpeace confirmed that although the proportion of electricity imported from France rose slightly in 2011, it was mainly passed on to neighboring countries such as Switzerland. In 2012, even less electricity was imported from France to Germany than before the nuclear moratorium. There were also no more imports from the Czech Republic than before the shutdown.

In July 2013, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that electricity suppliers wanted to shut down a number of conventional power plants in Germany and other European countries due to large overcapacities in the European electricity market and the resulting low electricity prices. According to industry circles, this could also include nuclear power plants. By mid-July 2013, the German Federal Network Agency had received 15 decommissioning applications. This announced that it would no longer accept any more closures, at least in southern Germany. Of around 90,000 megawatts of conventional electricity capacities in Germany, up to 20 percent were available in 2013. Temporary or permanent shutdowns are being considered for dozens of coal and gas-fired power plants. The large amount of electricity available from renewables is causing the stock exchange price to drop so sharply that it is no longer worth operating. On several occasions, utilities and public utilities have asked the government to be remunerated for the provision of power plants (“ capacity market ”) - so far in vain.

Climate protection

Opponents of the nuclear phase-out criticized that because of the nuclear phase-out, more electricity would have to be generated from coal and other fossil fuels, which conflicts with the goal of climate protection. According to Felix Matthes from the Freiburg Oeko-Institut (Berlin office), however, the extension of the term would not save any total CO 2 , since in April 2009 the EU set the limit for the annual allowable CO 2 amount for the period up to 2020 , in which does not include the possible CO 2 reduction through nuclear power plants. If CO 2 is saved by extending the term for nuclear power plants , other branches of industry can emit more CO 2 as part of emissions trading . An extension of the term would of course make climate protection more socially acceptable, as the government would have much greater leeway for climate protection measures.

Despite the shutdown of six reactors in March 2011, CO 2 emissions fell in 2011 and also in 2012 (by 2% and 2.9% respectively); In 2013 they rose again. The increasing emissions are due to the displacement of natural gas electricity generation by hard coal and lignite (probably due to the very low prices for CO 2 certificates) as well as a lack of CO 2 reductions in the areas of heating, transport and industry.

A study prepared for the BDI and presented in April 2011 came to the conclusion that if nuclear power were to be phased out by 2017, the energy industry would emit up to 63 million tonnes of carbon dioxide more per year. There would be additional costs because of the additional CO 2 certificates required and because of the need to replace power plant capacities. Shortly after the decommissioning of the old German nuclear power plants, British authors forecast an increased use of fossil fuels in Germany and an increase in the price of EU emissions trading certificates by around five euros per ton.

Radioactivity from coal power plants

Radionuclides occur in fossil fuels (in addition to hard coal and lignite also in oil and natural gas) . These radionuclides are contained in the ashes and exhaust gases from coal-fired power plants. The coal burned annually for power generation worldwide contains (as of 200x) around 10,000 tons of  uranium and 25,000 tons of  thorium . Most of it remains in the ashes. Emissions from modern coal-fired power plants (as of 2000) are expected to result in radioactive pollution of 0.4 µSv / a per plant, while in 2002 nuclear power plants in Germany contributed 1.4 µSv / a per plant to the radioactive dose. These numbers contradict other studies after the first source of man-made radioactivity for humans is coal-fired power stations and cigarette smoke. Among other things, the radiation exposure of a coal-fired power plant in operation is 10 to 100 times higher than that of a nuclear power plant in operation, according to Scientific American .

The radiation exposure from the ashes is heavily dependent on the filters installed and the negative health effects of the ashes from coal-fired power plants are for the most part not caused by the radioactivity, but by the soot itself and the heavy metal content. A comparison of nuclear energy with other energy sources shows that the premature deaths per amount of energy produced in coal-fired power plants and from many other sources greatly exceed those in nuclear power plants, even if the Chernobyl accident is included. The Chernobyl reactor series is hardly in operation anywhere in the world, but the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster caused another nuclear disaster due to inadequate safety technology as a result of one of the strongest earthquakes. In contrast, the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant, 12 km to the south, was not as badly affected.

Profits / losses of the energy companies

According to a study by the Landesbank Baden-Württemberg in 2009, nuclear power plant operators would earn at least 119 billion euros in addition if the service life was extended by eight to ten years if electricity prices remained at this level. With rising electricity prices, the additional income amounted to up to 233 billion euros. A maximum of half of the profits could go to the state. However, since the peak in electricity prices in 2008, electricity prices have more than halved (as of 2013).

After the nuclear disaster in Fukushima , the federal government announced a nuclear moratorium . According to a study by the Landesbank Baden-Württemberg (drawn up in spring 2011), the four operators of nuclear power plants in Germany will lose around 22 billion euros in profits as a result of the shorter running times.

According to the FAZ, the four large energy companies stated (as of June 2012) that they were suing for around 15 billion euros in damages for the nuclear phase-out and that they wanted to appeal primarily to the constitutional guarantee of ownership in their complaint to the Federal Constitutional Court . This, so the argument goes, protects not only the nuclear power plants but also the operating permits, the residual electricity volumes allocated by the Bundestag and the shares in the operating companies. (see also definition of content and limits )

On December 6, 2016, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled on the compensation claim by RWE and Vattenfall: "Measured against this, the 13th AtG amendment is unconstitutional in that it does not provide for any regulation on compensation for frustrated investments made in the short period between the decision of the Bundestag on the 11th AtG amendment and the letter of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety on the atomic moratorium of March 16, 2011. The 11th AtG amendment was based on the political decision of the legislature to use nuclear energy as a bridging technology for to continue to use it for a longer period of time. "

The established violations of the constitution lead to the determination of the incompatibility of Section 7 (1a) sentence 1 AtG with the Basic Law, combined with an order to continue to apply up to a new regulation.

According to the draft law, the federal government expects an amount "in the upper three-digit million range".

Counter arguments

The International Energy Agency (IEA) of the OECD considers a significant expansion of the use of nuclear energy to be necessary in order to limit the global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius. In the Energy Technology Perspectives 2017, the IEA writes:

* „Overview
The average construction starts over the last decade were about 8.5 GW per year. To meet the 2DS targets, more than a doubling is needed-to over 20 GW per year by 2025.
* Recent trends
Nuclear power saw 10 GW of capacity addition in 2016, the highest annual increase since 1990, but the year brought only 3 GW of new construction starts.
* Recommendation for 2017
Provide clear and consistent policy support for existing and new capacity that includes nuclear power in clean energy incentive schemes and that encourages its development in addition to other clean forms of energy.“


* Übersicht
Durchschnittlich wurde in der letzten Dekade der Bau von Kraftwerke mit einer Kapazität von 8,5 GW pro Jahr begonnen. Um das Zwei-Grad-Ziel zu erreichen, wäre eine Verdoppelung auf über 20 GW pro Jahr bis 2025 notwendig.
* Jüngste Trends
Im Jahr 2016 wurde die Kernenergiekapazität um 10 GW erhöht, der größten Steigerung seit 1990, Neubauten wurden aber nur für 3 GW begonnen.
* Empfehlung für 2017
Klare und konsistente politische Unterstützung für bestehende und neue Kapazität einschließlich Kernkraft in Förderprogrammen für saubere Energie, und Unterstützung für deren Weiterentwicklung zusätzlich zu anderen Formen sauberer Energie.

The climate researcher James Hansen describes the phase-out as a mistake and warns of an associated contribution to species extinction. Instead, Germany should shut down the coal-fired power plants first.

History of the nuclear phase-out by country

30 countries in the world operate nuclear power plants, within the European Union these are Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Finland, France, Great Britain, Sweden, Spain, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and the Netherlands. In the Netherlands and Great Britain there is no political decision to phase out nuclear power, but investors have recently withdrawn their plans to build new nuclear power plants for economic reasons. The countries that have expressly decided to phase out nuclear power after Fukushima (Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain) or want to remain free of nuclear power (such as Italy or Ireland) are opposed to a group of countries that maintain or continue to use nuclear power. want to introduce: Great Britain, France, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Lithuania. Lithuania withdrew from new construction plans after the majority of the population voted against the Visaginas NPP in a referendum on October 14, 2012. Great Britain, France, Poland and the Czech Republic made a joint request to the EU Commission to subsidize nuclear energy as a low-emission technology in order to receive financial support for the construction of nuclear power plants. In most of the non-European countries, the exit plans have so far hardly met with a positive response. Some countries - including China and Japan - reviewed their nuclear policy after Fukushima , in Japan the nuclear phase-out became an election campaign issue in 2012, but did not find a majority.

1970: Ireland

In Ireland, the plans for the Carnsore Point nuclear power station were well advanced, but after massive protests by the population it was rejected. Ireland is still considered to be a milestone in the anti-nuclear movement .

1978: Austria

The Zwentendorf nuclear power plant was never put into operation after a referendum.

Austria is the only country in the world that has built a commercial nuclear power plant, but never put it into operation, i.e. decided not to produce any nuclear power before it was put into operation. This happened with the - for the Austrian political understanding of direct democracy still formative - referendum on nuclear power plant Zwentendorf on November 5, 1978. As with the political person Kreisky (1970 to 1983 Chancellor of the Republic of Austria ) linked vote, which at that almost was, it was not just a concrete “success” of the anti-nuclear power movement, but also a political vote for the Federal Chancellor; However, the stance against nuclear power quickly became a consensus stance with the Atomic Lock Act (full title federal law of December 15, 1978 on the prohibition of the use of nuclear fission for energy supply in Austria ), and this is still the case today. Since then, Austria has been one of the pioneers of government initiatives against nuclear energy, which has often led to diplomatic disputes in view of the power plants or power plant projects close to the border in many neighboring countries (Switzerland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia).

On July 9, 1997, the Austrian parliament decided unanimously to continue the country's anti-nuclear policy. The successful referendum for a nuclear-free Austria took place towards the end of 1997 . Since August 1999, the Atomic Barrier Act has been constitutionally ranked as a law for a nuclear-free Austria with the almost unchanged wording from the referendum , making Austria the second constitutionally nuclear-free state on earth after Palau.

Nevertheless Austria imported end of the 2000s "more nuclear power from neighboring countries Germany and the Czech Republic, as the built and never gone to the mains power station Zwentendorf would have produced." This current is also on pumped storage power plants - largely free of emissions - from base load - in expensive peak-load power converted. However, since the introduction of the energy mix of the customer's choice, the proportion has been falling again. The Zwentendorf nuclear power plant was replaced locally by the Dürnrohr power plant , a coal-fired power plant with corresponding CO 2 and other pollutant emissions.


After the partial meltdown in the US nuclear power plant Three Mile Island 2 in 1979, a referendum on the future of nuclear energy followed in Sweden in March 1980. With 58.1 percent, voters spoke out in favor of a further limited expansion of nuclear power plants. As a result, the Swedish Parliament decided in 1980 that no further nuclear power plants should be built. The six reactors under construction at the time were nevertheless completed. The nuclear phase-out should be completed by 2000. This deadline was extended to 2010 and abolished entirely in 2009.

After the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, the risks of nuclear energy were discussed again. The Swedish Reichstag (parliament) decided in 1997 to close one of the two reactors of the Barsebäck nuclear power plant by July 1, 1998 and the second before July 1, 2001, provided that energy production is balanced by then. Unit 1 in the Barsebäck nuclear power plant was closed on November 30, 1999, and Unit 2 followed on June 1, 2005.

The exit from nuclear energy continues to be a controversial issue in Sweden. When the conservative government under Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt took office in 2006, it tried to cancel the exit, but initially had to abandon it after protests.

On February 5, 2009, the government decided on an energy program which, in addition to the massive expansion of wind energy and a reduction in overall energy consumption, should also allow the construction of new nuclear power plants again. New reactors may only be built as a replacement for decommissioned power plants at existing locations. With the program, the government also excluded state support for the construction of new nuclear power plants. On June 17, 2010, the Swedish Reichstag confirmed the decision.

Since October 2014 the country has been governed by a coalition of the Swedish Social Democratic Workers' Party and the Environment Party / The Greens . Although this party has not yet politically reintroduced the nuclear phase-out, the so-called “effect tax”, which taxes nuclear reactors according to their theoretical and not their actual performance, has been increased by a sixth. As a result, two consortia, consisting of the electricity companies E.ON , Vattenfall and Fortum , announced the decommissioning of four of the ten reactors still in operation by 2020. The shutdowns are to take place at the Oskarshamn and Ringhals sites .
In June 2016, the coalition government decided to abolish the nuclear electricity tax in 2019 and to gradually replace the existing reactors with new ones.

1981/1994: Palau

The small South Sea island state of Palau , at that time still a protectorate of the USA, passed a constitution free of nuclear power in 1981 (as well as the prohibition of toxic chemicals and chemical weapons as well as biological warfare agents). This slowed down the aspirations for independence because the USA refused not to sail into the future state territory with ships powered by nuclear power and also to temporarily store nuclear weapons in Palau. In 1994, with the independence, the draft was nevertheless put into effect. Palau is the first state to have a constitution that speaks out against both the peaceful and the military use of nuclear power.

1983: Greece

At the end of 1976 the Greek parliament decided to build a nuclear power plant and approved the state-owned Public Power Corp. Means of planning. The aim was to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. In 1983 planning was discontinued after no satisfactory answers could be given to the question of safety in the event of sea and earthquakes. Regardless of this, however, the research reactor on the premises of the NCSR Demokritos remained in operation. In the meantime this has been shut down, a restart is considered unlikely.

1984: New Zealand

New Zealand has been nuclear technology-free since 1984, and in 1987 it passed the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone Disarmament and Arms Control Act , which also prohibits the stationing of nuclear weapons and the sailing of nuclear-powered vehicles on New Zealand waters (see reactor ship ).

1985: Denmark

In 1985 , Denmark finally decided against the use of nuclear energy through a parliamentary resolution. There were disputes over a repository for the nuclear waste from three small, decommissioned test reactors in the Risø Laboratory , which had been in operation between 1957 and 1960 and were decommissioned in 2002/2003. In 2018, more than 50 percent of the electricity generated in the country came from renewable energies , the rest from the use of gas and coal.


Ferdinand Marcos , dictatorial president of the Philippines, had driven the construction of a nuclear power plant, the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), which was completely completed by 1984. After the political change - and shortly after the Chernobyl disaster - his successor, Corazon Aquino , decided not to go into operation.

Operation of an experimental reactor in Quezon City , which had been running since 1963 , continued until 1988.

In 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte had a reopening of the then 30-year-old BNPP plant investigated. In 2017 the Russian agency ROSATOM and in 2020 the IAEA carried out further feasibility studies on the operation of nuclear power plants in the Philippines.

1987/2011: Italy

After the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in April 1986 , Italy shut down all four of Italy's nuclear power plants that had been in operation since the mid-1960s following the referendum of November 8, 1987.

In 2009, under Berlusconi, the "stepping out of stepping out" was being considered again in phases. After the nuclear disaster in Fukushima in March 2011, 94.1% of those who voted rejected re-entry in a referendum in mid-2011; the turnout was 57%.

1992: Cuba

Cuba received support from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s to build the Juraguá nuclear power plant . It should go into operation around 1993. The construction of a nuclear power plant near Gibara has also started . In 1992, President Fidel Castro stopped construction because he saw the country overwhelmed with the financial outlay. The Juraguá nuclear power plant is now a clearly visible building ruin, the "preservation" of which cost around 10 million US dollars a year. The Gibara nuclear power plant was only rudimentary. A hall was built in which the preparations for construction began. Since then, Cuba has been relying on the consistent expansion of "renewable energy", for example in the Gibara 1 and 2 wind farms.

2023: Germany

1989–1990: GDR

In 1989 there were two nuclear power plants in Greifswald (2200 MW) and Rheinsberg (70 MW) in the GDR . Both power plants were shut down in the course of reunification for economic reasons, while no phase-out was initially planned in the old federal states . This was justified with the Soviet technology of the East German nuclear power plants, which was judged to be insufficiently safe.

Trial operation of Unit 5 of the Greifswald nuclear power plant (KGR) was prohibited on November 24, 1989, as no West German energy company was prepared to take on the cost risk. Three more of the five active units were shut down in February 1990. With Unit 4, the last nuclear reactor still in operation in the GDR was shut down in July 1990.

The costs for the dismantling were initially put at 4.2 billion euros in 2015; In mid-2016, Energiewerke Nord, as the owner of the systems , assumed at least 6.6 billion euros. The decontamination of the Lubmin power plant is expected to be completed in 2028.

2000 / 2011–2022: "Old" federal states and reunified Germany

In West Germany, the phase-out of nuclear power began under the first red-green federal government ( Schröder I cabinet ) with the "Agreement between the federal government and the energy supply companies of June 14, 2000". In 2002 the contract (“Atomic Consensus”) was legally secured by an amendment to the Atomic Energy Act . As a result, the Stade nuclear power plant (640 MW) was shut down on November 14, 2003 and the Obrigheim nuclear power plant (340 MW) on May 11, 2005 . For all other nuclear power plants, residual amounts of electricity were agreed, after which the power plants should be shut down. Fixed shutdown dates were not agreed, the electricity volumes were calculated in such a way that the last power plants could have been operated until around 2015–2020.

In 2010, under the Merkel II cabinet, the Atomic Energy Act was modified by extending the service life of German nuclear power plants in line with the nuclear industry . It was passed by the Bundestag on October 28, 2010; the seven nuclear reactors that went into operation before 1980 each received an additional eight years of operation, the remaining ten each received an additional 14 years of operation.

On March 14, 2011 - a few days after the start of the Fukushima nuclear disaster - the Merkel II cabinet decided to make another significant change in its nuclear and energy policy : First, it announced a three-month nuclear moratorium for the seven oldest German nuclear power plants as well as for the due many breakdowns of controversial Krümmel nuclear power plant ; shortly afterwards, they commissioned the reactor safety commission and the newly established ethics commission for a secure energy supply to justify their nuclear phase-out. On June 6, 2011, the Merkel II cabinet decided to end eight nuclear power plants and to phase out nuclear power in stages by 2022. The term extensions decided in autumn 2010 were thus withdrawn. The second German nuclear phase-out was fixed by means of a new amendment to the Atomic Energy Act .

On June 30, 2011, the Bundestag passed a roll-call vote with 513 of 600 votes on the “13th Law amending the Atomic Energy Act ", which regulates the end of the use of nuclear energy and the acceleration of the energy transition. In particular, the operating license for eight nuclear power plants in Germany expired; the running times of the other nine power plants were staggered, with the last nuclear power plants to be shut down at the end of 2022 (see also: List of nuclear power plants in Germany ).

The Brunsbüttel nuclear power plant and seven other German nuclear power plants were shut down in mid-2011

As of August 6, 2011, the following eight German nuclear power plants lost their operating license:

The Grafenrheinfeld nuclear power plant was taken offline on June 27, 2015 .

On December 31, 2017, Unit B of the Gundremmingen NPP went offline .

On December 31, 2019, the Philippsburg 2 nuclear power plant was finally shut down.

The following followed on December 31, 2021:

The remaining three German nuclear power plants must go offline by December 31, 2022 at the latest:

In 2011, 8,785 MW or 41% of the gross electricity generation capacity of the current nuclear power plants were shut down for a short time. In the following 10 years, only 4157 MW or 19% had to be decommissioned (2015, 2017 and 2019), according to which the last 8545 MW (40%) should disappear within a year.

As a representative survey in autumn 2011 showed, 80% of the population welcomed the nuclear phase-out; 8% found it wrong, 12% gave no judgment. In May 2021, approval had dropped to 56%.

There was no electricity imports (as initially feared) or the expansion of fossil electricity generation; Among other things because the production of renewable energies increased significantly in 2011 and 2012.

In May 2012, Vattenfall sued the Federal Republic of Germany for damages of 4.7 billion euros for the decommissioning of the Krümmel and Brunsbüttel nuclear power plants before the arbitral tribunal under the rules of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington (see Vattenfall v. Federal Republic of Germany ). Vattenfall as a Swedish group can refer to the international Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) and its investment protection rules because Sweden and Germany have signed the ECT.

In the summer of 2012, E.ON and RWE filed a constitutional complaint against the nuclear phase-out decided in 2011 in order to pave the way for later claims for damages in civil courts. Vattenfall has also lodged a constitutional complaint. It was questionable whether this is permissible for a foreign state-owned company. The Federal Constitutional Court dismissed the complaints and declared the nuclear phase-out essentially compatible with the Basic Law, but left questions of adequate compensation for damages unanswered.

Lawsuits were also brought against the fuel element tax. According to the plaintiff groups, it violates European law and the tax powers of the federal government under the Basic Law. The European Court of Justice approved the tax in June 2015. On presentation by the Hamburg Finance Court , which shared the doubts about the constitutionality, the Federal Constitutional Court decided on June 7, 2017 that the federal government had no legislative competence for a fuel element tax and that the law was therefore null and void.

In 2011, German proponents of pebble bed reactors saw a need to review the term nuclear phase-out to determine whether it was a question of the phase-out of the peaceful use of nuclear energy or, more specifically, the phase-out of the light water reactor . This was not developed under the aspect of generating electricity and therefore has safety and disposal deficits. A campaign by the Kugelhaufen lobby (motto change instead of alight ) fizzled out in 2011 without any significant response, especially since serious safety weaknesses of this reactor concept had become clear (more details here ).

Because of the three-month moratorium in 2011, RWE, E.ON and EnBW sued the respective states and the Federal Republic of Germany in 2014 for compensation for alleged lost profits. RWE is currently demanding € 235 million from the State of Hesse and the federal government, E.ON from the Free State of Bavaria, Lower Saxony and the federal government € 386 million (the action was dismissed by the Hanover Regional Court on July 4, 2016). and EnBW the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg and the federal government € 261 million (the action was dismissed on April 6, 2016 by the District Court Bonn) According to a report of the TV magazine Monitor from the start in February 2015, various warnings of an incomplete poor or ( legally tenable) justification of the moratorium and the shutdown instructions ignored as a risk for subsequent claims for damages.

In 2014 it became known that the reserves of the power plant operators for the dismantling of the nuclear power plants and the disposal of nuclear waste will probably not be sufficient due to the early decommissioning and that the state will have to cover the costs. As a result, the fund was set up to finance nuclear waste management .

In December 2016, the Federal Constitutional Court awarded the affected energy companies the right to compensation for the premature phase-out of nuclear power. The amended Atomic Energy Act violates the property guarantee (Article 14, Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law), since the introduction of fixed shutdown dates did not ensure that the legally allocated residual electricity volumes are used up. In addition, there was no compensation regulation for investments that were devalued by the cancellation of the additional amounts of electricity granted in 2010. The court set the legislature a deadline of June 30, 2018 in order to make a new regulation - or to extend the terms again. The Atomic Energy Act was then expanded with regard to compensation (16th amendment to the Atomic Energy Act: Sections 7e-7g Atomic Energy Act ) - however, this amendment never came into force due to procedural errors. In addition, following a lawsuit by Vattenfall , the Federal Constitutional Court ruled in September 2020 that this new regulation "[could] not remedy the violation of the fundamental right to property [...]". It again obliged the legislature to implement a “new regulation as soon as possible”.

As a result, a public law contract was signed on March 25, 2021 for the payment of financial compensation due to the accelerated nuclear phase-out. The contract was concluded between the Federal Republic of Germany on the one hand and the nuclear power plant operators - E.ON, Vattenfall, RWE and EnBW - on the other. The corporations are to receive a total of 2.43 billion euros in compensation for non-group-internal electricity quantities and devalued investments. The Bundestag approved the contract and the associated 18th amendment to the Atomic Energy Act on June 10, 2021.


In 2003, under the Verhofstadt I government, Belgium decided to phase out nuclear power by 2025. A corresponding law came into force on January 31, 2003. The seven Belgian nuclear reactors (three in the Tihange nuclear power plant , four in the Doel nuclear power plant ) were each to be shut down forty years after the start of commercial operation. The shutdown of the first two reactors was planned for 2015, for the last 2025. Article 3 of the law prohibits the construction of new nuclear reactors for commercial energy generation.

After the decision to phase out nuclear power, this was discussed politically several times, mainly because of the fear of insufficient security of supply. The 2003 law explicitly provides for a revision of the exit. Specifically, by decree of the Council of Ministers after a corresponding recommendation by the Commission de Régulation de l'Electricité et du Gaz / Commissie voor de Regulering van de Elektriciteit en het Gas ("Commission for the standardization of electricity and gas"), an extension of the term can be decided if There are cases of force majeure or a disruption of the security of supply. In October 2011, the Di Rupo government initially agreed to implement the nuclear phase-out from 2015 as originally planned.

In June 2012, however, the Tihange 1 reactor was extended by ten years on the basis of a resolution by the Council of Ministers (instead of October 1, 2015, now until 2025). In August and September 2012, cracks were found in the reactor pressure vessels of Doel-3 and Tihange-2. Both reactors were therefore shut down and remained offline until summer 2013. In Maastricht (near the Dutch-Belgian border, about 50 km as the crow flies from Huy) several thousand people demonstrated against nuclear power. The cracks apparently appeared during the manufacture of the containers. After an investigation by the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANK / AFCN / FANC) did not reveal any safety concerns, they were restarted. In March 2014, the two reactors were shut down again after tests by FANK in a special laboratory in Mol revealed an unexpectedly high number of hairline cracks . The consequences for the safety of the reactors were investigated. Belgian media questioned the planned restart date in June 2015. On November 17, 2015 FANK published its permission to restart Doel 3 and Tihange 2. The cracks would not pose a safety risk.

While Doel-3 and Tihange-2 were switched off, Doel-4 also had to be shut down between August and December 2014. The Michel I government, which came into office on October 11, 2014 , decided on December 18, 2014 (analogous to the decision on Tihange-1) to extend the service life of Doel-1 and Doel-2, the two older reactors in the Doel nuclear power plant. These can therefore be operated until 2025. The energy minister, Marie-Christine Marghem, speculated that nuclear energy would play a fundamental role in Belgium after 2025 as well. The opposition later accused her of concealing negative reports in relation to this extension and called for her to resign.

Doel-1 was temporarily shut down on February 15, 2015 - exactly 40 years after the start of commercial operation. Before the system can go online for another ten years, security investments are required, which FANK has requested. On November 30, 2015, the Michel government signed a contract with ENGIE (formerly GDF Suez) to invest in the Doel-1 and Doel-2 reactors. On December 23, 2021, the Belgian De Croo government announced the shutdown of the two nuclear power plants in Doel and Tihange, starting from 2022 until 2025.


In addition to Italy, Germany and Belgium, Switzerland also decided to phase out nuclear power. However, it has not yet been determined when the exit is to be carried out (as of October 2021).

The Swiss Federal Council decided in May 2011, under the impression of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima , to phase out nuclear energy. In June 2011 the National Council and in September 2011 the Council of States approved the corresponding motions . Accordingly, no more new nuclear reactors should be approved; the existing systems are to be shut down at the end of their “safety-related” runtime. According to the estimates, the nuclear phase-out in Switzerland would be completed by 2034. The first of a total of five reactors, the Mühleberg nuclear power plant , was taken offline in 2019 after a popular initiative to shut it down immediately in May 2014 was clearly rejected.

The decision to phase out nuclear power meets with approval from the Swiss population: In a representative survey in 2014, 77% of Swiss people said they would vote in favor of a nuclear phase-out by 2034 in a referendum .

In a referendum at the beginning of June 2016, 70.4% of the residents of the city of Zurich voted to phase out nuclear power by 2034. In the city of Bern , nuclear phase-out was set for 2039 in a municipal referendum at the end of November 2010.

The nuclear phase-out initiative of the Greens, which limit the running time of nuclear power plants and thus should allow a nuclear power by 2029 at the latest, failed on 27 November 2016 at both the popular majority and the cantons.

In 2017, the power plant operator Alpiq announced that it would suffer annual losses of two billion francs due to the green electricity subsidies. Plans to sell it to the state or even to give it away to the French energy company EDF failed.

On May 21, 2017, a ban on the approval of new nuclear power plants as part of the Energy Strategy 2050 was adopted by 58 percent of the voters in a referendum . However, the Paul Scherrer Institute is still working on future atomic reactors, such as B. the high-temperature reactor , researched. Switzerland continues to be involved in Euratom and ITER .


Until the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, nuclear energy was largely undisputed in Japan . At that time it produced almost a third of the electricity consumed in Japan. The amount of electricity produced should, however, be increased, among other things because of the rising oil prices .

After the reactor catastrophe, then Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in July 2011 that Japan would phase out nuclear power in the long term . His successor Yoshihiko Noda finally announced a medium-term exit from nuclear energy. However, as a direct consequence of the reactor disaster, most of the Japanese nuclear power plants were shut down immediately. Since the Japanese prefectural governments also had to agree to restarting nuclear power plants after the revisions that take place every 13 months, but did not do so in view of massive concerns and protests in the population, Japan operated only one of the former 54 nuclear power plants in March 2012. At the beginning of May 2012, however, this reactor - Tomari 3 - also went offline for maintenance purposes. For the first time in 42 years, no “nuclear power” was generated in Japan.

On June 16, 2012, Prime Minister Noda ordered two reactors in the Ōi nuclear power plant to be put back into operation, otherwise there would be a shortage of electricity., As a result, there were mass protests against nuclear power and 7.4 million Japanese people signed a petition to Phase out nuclear energy.

In September 2012, an exit for 2030–2040 was announced. In fact, it was a new construction freeze. A few days later, the relevant strategy paper was rejected again in a cabinet meeting.

On December 16, 2012 there were general elections in Japan . Ten days later Shinzō Abe (LDP) was elected as the new Prime Minister . The well-known nuclear power proponent said that Japan could not afford to phase out nuclear power for economic reasons ( expensive energy imports). On January 31, 2013, Abe reaffirmed his intention to reverse the nuclear phase-out that his previous government had decided to do, expressly not ruling out an increase in the share of nuclear power in the energy supply.

In April 2014, the Abe cabinet reversed the complete nuclear phase-out. A new energy plan was adopted, according to which nuclear power plants should continue to operate, whereby each power plant should first be checked for safety. The energy plan also provides that the share of nuclear energy in the overall energy mix should be reduced. Instead, more renewable energies are to be used.

In May 2014, 84.3% of the Japanese population voted in favor of an immediate or gradual nuclear phase-out. A restart of power plants for all Japanese nuclear power plants that were shut down at that time was rejected by 48.7% of the population. 41.3% of those questioned were in favor of restarting the system.

Courts in Fukui prohibited the restarting of reactors Oi 3 and 4, as well as the reactor in Takashima. In the case of the Takashima reactor, this decision was justified by the fact that the current version of the Nuclear Regulation Agency's safety guidelines were not sufficiently met. In October 2015, two nuclear power plant blocks at the Sendai nuclear power plant in southwest Kyushu were restarted. However, experts warned that the power plants could be endangered by nearby volcanoes.

The ruling LPD Komeito government under Shinzo Abe would like to force nuclear energy again in the long term, but the NRA calculated in a study that only around 25-50% of the power plant capacity from before Fukushima would be back on the grid, as with all boiling water reactors and the older pressurized water reactors, the conversion costs to the new safety guidelines are too high. The share of renewable energies in the Japanese electricity mix is ​​also growing rapidly.

As of June 2016, only 2 of Japan's 48 existing commercial reactors are operational. However, on June 20, 2016, Japan's nuclear regulatory authority approved (for the first time) an extension of the service life of two reactors (No. 1 and 2 in the Takahama nuclear power plant, west of Tokyo) by 20 years (beyond 40 years of age). “The Japanese government of the right-wing conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is aiming for a share of nuclear energy in the electricity supply of 20 to 22 percent by 2030. Abe's predecessor Yoshihiko Noda announced a plan to phase out nuclear power in 2012. "

2012: Lithuania

A nuclear power plant with two reactor blocks was in operation in Lithuania from 1983 to 2009. The two reactors were shut down on December 31, 2009 in accordance with an agreement between Lithuania and the EU. Nuclear energy accounted for up to 70 percent of total electricity generation in Lithuania during this period.

The Lithuanian government was planning a return to the use of nuclear energy and the construction of reactors for the Hitachi group at the Visaginas site . In a referendum on October 15, 2012 , the majority of the Lithuanian population spoke out against re-entry. Although the referendum is not legally binding, Algirdas Butkevičius , who was elected Prime Minister of Lithuania on the same day, declared in December 2012 that he wanted to “respect the will of the Lithuanians”. This means that Lithuania is the second country in the world after Italy that has put all its commercial nuclear power plants out of operation and thus effectively completed a complete nuclear phase-out. As a result of the exit, the net electricity exporter became an importer with an import share of 70%.


The Fessenheim nuclear power plant, which is considered particularly prone to breakdowns by the public .

The Parti Socialiste (PS) and the green party Europe Écologie-Les Verts (EELV) agreed in November 2011 to close 24 nuclear power plants by 2025 if they win the presidential elections in May 2012 . This is a third of the capacity. France's oldest, the Fessenheim nuclear power plant near the German border, should be shut down immediately in the event of a left-wing election victory. The newly elected President François Hollande in May 2012 announced the closure of Fessenheim for the end of 2016. He pretended to want to reduce the proportion of French nuclear power from then about 75 percent to 50 percent. The EELV aimed for a complete phase-out of nuclear energy based on the German model.

In France, the nuclear industry has a very strong lobby . She tried to reverse the decision during the election campaign. The Areva nuclear group , which manufactures MOX fuel elements and also operates the La Hague reprocessing plant , has protested to the PS against plans to suspend these two activities in the future.

In October 2014, an energy transition law was passed in the French parliament with 314 votes to 219. It provides for the share of nuclear energy in the electricity mix to be reduced to 50% by 2025; it is currently around 75%. The output of the nuclear power plants was capped to a maximum of 63.2 gigawatts.

On July 22, 2015, the French National Assembly passed a law on the energy transition. By 2025, the share of nuclear power should fall from 75% to 50%, but more than 20 of the 58 nuclear power plants would be shut down. At the same time, fossil fuels should decrease by 30% in the period 2012–2030, while renewable energies should increase from 12% to 32% by 2030. Environment Minister Ségolène Royal described the law as "the most ambitious in Europe".

In November 2017, President Emmanuel Macron announced that the goal of reducing the share of nuclear energy to 50% in the electricity mix would be in 2035 at the earliest. H. can be achieved ten years later than originally planned. On December 8, 2020, it added that nuclear power a "safe and CO 2 is low carbon cornerstone" of the French energy mix.

2025: Taiwan

In Taiwan, construction of the Lungmen nuclear power plant was suspended until a referendum was held in April 2014 after violent protests.

The Democratic Progressive Party , elected by a majority in 2016, plans to shut down all nuclear power plants in Taiwan by 2025. The government also intends that the two blocks of the Lungmen nuclear power plant should never go online. In 2018, the majority of the population again voted against a mandatory exit in a referendum .

2057: South Korea

In June 2017, South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced that it would phase out nuclear power entirely by 2057. The existing nuclear power plants are to go offline after 40 years, the oldest reactor block, Kori 1 , was shut down on June 18, 2017.

2035: Spain

In February 2019, the Spanish government announced that it would shut down all nuclear power plants between 2027 and 2035.

See also


  • Klaus Traube : Cheap nuclear power? Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Reinbek 1985, ISBN 3-499-14947-8
  • Klaus Traube: After the worst case scenario. Chernobyl and the consequences. Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Reinbek 1986, ISBN 3-499-15921-X
  • John May: The Greenpeace manual of the atomic age, data - facts - catastrophes , Droemersche Verlagsanstalt Th. Knaur, Munich 1989, ISBN 3-426-04057-3
  • Bernard Leonard Cohen : The Nuclear Energy Option: An Alternative for the 90’s , Plenum Publishing Corporation, New York 1990, ISBN 0-306-43567-5
  • William D. Nordhaus: The Swedish Nuclear Dilemma - Energy and the Environment , RFF Press, Washington, DC 1997, ISBN 0-915707-84-5
  • Walter Bayer: Legal questions about the nuclear phase-out , Bwv - Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-8305-0121-8
  • Alexis von Komorowski: Legal issues of the nuclear phase-out , in: Legal training (JURA) 2001, pp. 17–21, ISSN  0170-1452
  • Patrick Kupper: Atomic Energy and Divided Society , Chronos Verlag, Zurich 2003, ISBN 3-0340-0595-4
  • Alexander Schneehain: The nuclear phase-out - An analysis from a constitutional and administrative point of view , Cuvillier, Göttingen 2005, ISBN 3-86537-635-5
  • “Health Effects of the Chernobyl Accident and Special Health Care Programs”, Report to the UN Chernobyl Forum Expert Group “Health”, Geneva 2006, ISBN 92-4-159417-9
  • Heinrich Böll Foundation (ed.): Myth of atomic power. A guide , Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-927760-51-X , download
  • Marko Ferst: Deception maneuver nuclear phase-out? About the GAU risk, terror risks and final disposal , Leipzig 2007, ISBN 3-86703-582-2
  • Gerd Rosenkranz : Myths of nuclear power. How the energy lobby is duping us. Oekom, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-86581-198-1
  • Astrid Wallrabenstein: The constitutionality of the recent nuclear phase-out - On the 13th amendment to the Atomic Energy Act , in: Humboldt Forum Recht (HFR) 2011, pp. 109–121, free online resource , ISSN  1862-7617
  • Joachim Radkau , Lothar Hahn , Rise and Fall of the German Nuclear Industry , Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3-86581-315-2 .
  • Wolfgang Sternstein, "Nuclear power - no thanks". The long way to get out , Frankfurt am Main 2013, ISBN 978-3-95558-033-9 .
  • Udo di Fabio , Wolfgang Durner , Gerhard Wagner : Nuclear energy exit 2011: The 13th AtG amendment from a constitutional point of view . (Nomos 2013), ISBN 978-3-8487-0845-1

Web links

Wiktionary: nuclear phase-out  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

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