Germany Shuts Nuclear Plant As It Phases Out Atomic Energy

Germany Shuts Nuclear Plant As It Phases Out Atomic Energy
Steam rises from the cooling towers of the Grafenrheinfeld nuclear power plant at night near Grafenrheinfeld, Germany, on June 11, 2015. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

BERLIN—Germany is shutting down one of its seven remaining nuclear power plants as part of a planned phase-out of atomic energy production by the end of 2022.

Utility company EnBW has said it would take the Philippsburg Nuclear Power Plant off the grid at 7 p.m. local time on Tuesday. The plant’s license to operate expires at midnight.

Under Germany’s “energy transition” plan, the country aims to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources over the coming decades. The government agreed earlier this year to stop producing electricity from coal-fired plants by 2038 at the latest.

Proponents of nuclear power argue that shutting down the remaining reactors will endanger Germany’s energy security, making it more reliant on coal and gas and on electricity imported from neighboring countries that still have atomic plants.

Renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, delivered over 47 percent of the electricity consumed from the public grid in Germany during the first six months of the year. Nuclear power accounted for about 13 percent, according to the Fraunhofer Institute.

The 1,468-megawatt reactor that’s being shut down began operation in 1984. It is located 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Frankfurt near the French border.

An older reactor at the same site, known as Philippsburg 1, was shut down for good in 2011, shortly after the German government agreed to phase out nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in Japan.

Neighboring Switzerland shut down a 47-year-old nuclear plant earlier this month.

On Monday, Sweden shut down one of the four nuclear reactors at its largest power station after over 40 years of operation due to a lack of profitability.

Swedish news agency TT said the Ringhals 2 reactor in southwestern Sweden was permanently closed in accordance with a 2015 decision by its owners, the Swedish energy group Vattenfall and German utility Uniper.

The Ringhals power station, located 65 kilometers (40 miles) south of Sweden’s second-largest city of Goteborg, is one of the Nordic nation’s three nuclear power plants.