News Release

Germany’s Nuclear Shutdown Made Its Green Energy Possible


LINDA PENTZ GUNTER,, @BeyondNuclear 
Gunter is founder and international specialist of Beyond Nuclear. She said today: “The renewable energy revolution needed to save us from the worst of the climate crisis is a matter of political will, not technical know-how, and Germany’s weekend shutdown of its last three nuclear reactors marks a strong step in that direction.

“The German renewable energy boom, known as the Energiewende, was made possible in the first place by the decision to phase out nuclear power. Contained within the Renewable Energy Act of 2000 was a precondition that a nuclear phaseout would only proceed if nuclear power was replaced by renewable energy and not by fossil fuels.

“Germany’s overall energy trajectory is the key here. In 2000, the renewable energy share in Germany was around 6 percent. The nuclear share was 30 percent. In just 23 years, those numbers have been reversed, with today’s renewable share at around 40 percent (down from 54 percent in 2022 but with a commitment now to ramp up implementation), and nuclear under 6 percent before the recent final closures. Germany remains on track to achieve its carbon neutral goal by 2045.

“Critics who falsely ascribe Germany’s continued use of coal, including brown coal or lignite, to the nuclear phaseout, fail to understand that these upticks are driven by the export market, are not for domestic consumption, and largely in response to demands from France, whose nuclear sector collapsed with a more than 50 percent outage last winter. These coal exports are entirely unrelated to the nuclear shutdown. Furthermore, Germany’s lignite and coal production remain well below earlier levels and Germany plans to end coal use by 2038. Some forecasts even see this happening by 2030.

“The nuclear phaseout opened the way for renewable energy growth in Germany. Germany recognizes that renewables are cheaper, faster and safer than nuclear power and come without a lethal waste legacy. The United States would do well to follow this example, rather than continue to fund nuclear power, the slowest, and most expensive of all energy choices.”

More information see: “Beyond Nuclear Talking Points: Germany’s Energy Revolution (‘Energiewende’) is working.”