German Government Confirms Plans to Close Nuclear Plants by 2022

Germany's governing coalition formalized its decision to end nuclear power in the country Monday with a proposal to phase out six reactors by 2022 and keep offline several others shut down following the Fukushima Daiichi crisis.

Chancellor Angela Merkel had signaled such a move was coming in the weeks since she reversed her support for relicensing the country's oldest plants following the multiple-reactor accident in Japan. Polls show weak public support for nuclear power in Germany, and many see the move as a bid by Merkel's party to keep its coalition in power with the help of anti-nuclear politicians after it lost several races in a recent election.

Before the crisis, nuclear provided about 23 percent of the country's electricity. The government ordered seven of oldest plants to shut down in March. Those, and an eighth plant not in operation at the time, will not be brought back online. The country's remaining reactors will be decommissioned over the next decade, according to Reuters.

To account for the loss of generation, the energy plan sets goals to cut electricity use by 10 percent and boost renewable generation to 35 percent of the country's power by 2020. Germany has spent years increasing its renewable generation, but executives from utilities and other industries warned the move to abandon nuclear will increase prices and dependence on power from other countries.

On Monday, Areva CEO Anne Lauvergeon said as much in an interview with BFM Radio.

"It's hard to see how they will replace the energy," Bloomberg quoted her as saying. "I'm not sure there is enough Polish coal, and it creates carbon problems. Alternative energy sources are intermittent sources. I think they will do what Austria did in its time: import nuclear electricity from neighboring countries."

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