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'Germany shows N-plants shutdown viable option'

Germany,Business/Economy,Science/Tech, Fri, 02 Nov 2012 IANS

Berlin, Nov 2 (IANS) Germany's decision to shut its nuclear reactors and move toward renewable energy are yielding measurable economic and environmental benefits, says a report.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011 prompted Germany to deactivate its eight oldest reactors with immediate effect and also pass legislation that will shut down the last nuclear power plant by 2022.

This nuclear phase-out had overwhelming political support in Germany. Elsewhere, many saw it as "panic politics", and the online business magazine went as far as to ask, in a headline, whether the decision was "Insane -- or Just Plain Stupid?".

However, a top expert in his report has described the move as a probable game-changer for the nuclear industry worldwide, a special issue of the journal Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reports.

Authored by Princeton University researcher Alexander Glaser, the report 'From Brokdorf to Fukushima: The long journey to nuclear phase-out', places the German nuclear exit in its historical context, which includes massive, civil war-like confrontations between anti-nuclear protestors and police.

Because of long standing public opposition to nuclear power, by the 1990s few in German political life seriously entertained the idea of new reactor construction.

And, Glaser notes, Germany's decision last year to pursue a nuclear phase-out was anything but precipitous. Serious planning to shutter the nuclear industry and greatly expand alternative energy production began more than a decade ago.

"Germany's nuclear phase-out could provide a proof-of-concept, demonstrating the political and technical feasibility of abandoning a controversial high-risk technology. Germany's nuclear phase-out, successful or not, is likely to become a game changer for nuclear energy worldwide," Glaser says.

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