German parliament approves motion to be nuclear free by 2022

Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, has today voted comprehensively to abandon nuclear energy by 2022.

Representatives from the Social Democrats and the Green Party voted with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right coalition to support the motion, with the vote splitting 513 in favour and 79 against.

The bill will still have to be passed in the Bundesrat, the upper house of parliament, next month.

Germany’s decision to scrap nuclear power was prompted by the Fukushima disaster in Japan in March. It represented a significant change in policy for Merkel, who last year approved plans to expand the use of nuclear power.

The country currently has 17 nuclear power plants. The seven oldest plants are offline under a nuclear moratorium announced by Merkel in mid-March. Another reactor, Kruemmel, has been offline for a number of years.

At the end of May, Minister of Ecology Norbert Roettgen of the Christian Democratic Union party, said that none of those plants would go back online. He said a second group of six nuclear reactors will go offline at the end of 2021 at the latest, and the three most modern, newest nuclear plants will go offline in 2022 at the latest.

Germany, which currently gets 23pc of its energy from nuclear power, plans replace the deficit by ramping up its renewable energy portfolio and by increasing its investments in energy research.