The nuclear power debate in Germany really flared up again when Russia began supplying less gas and energy prices skyrocketed. After a long back and forth, two nuclear power plants are to continue to operate, Minister of Economics Habeck announced. A tough discussion that is incomprehensible in some EU countries.

“We can’t play with nuclear power,” said Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) a few weeks ago. In order to avert a possible energy crisis in winter, the Greens politician announced on Tuesday that he would draw the “reserve” and leave the Isar 2 and Neckarwestheim nuclear power plants connected to the grid in the first quarter of 2023. Other states are clear on that. They recently made their decisions about nuclear power.

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Actually, according to the plan since June 30, 2011, when the Bundestag decided to phase out nuclear power, the last three nuclear power plants should be shut down by the end of 2022 at the latest: Isar 2, Emsland and Neckarwestheim 2. But the tide has turned. The war in Ukraine and dependence on Russia’s energy supplies has given pro-nuclear power new ground – and not only in Germany. What has been hotly debated in this country for years only causes heads to shake in countries around the world, especially in some EU countries. Nuclear power is still used to generate electricity in 13 of the 27 EU countries.

Immediately after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, all nuclear power plants in Germany that had been in operation up to and including 1980 were shut down. A rethinking began. The then Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) was shocked. Three days after the accident, she announced that because of the “unbelievable catastrophe” in Japan, the recently decided extension of the operating times of German nuclear power plants would be suspended.

In hardly any other country in the world did the catastrophe trigger such a reaction. On the contrary: According to data from the “Power Reactor Information System”, 92 nuclear reactors are currently in operation in the USA. No country has more. The Americans are thus producing more gigawatts of electricity than Russia and Japan combined. France is right behind with 56 reactors in operation, followed by China with 55, Japan with 33 and Russia with 37 reactors.

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However, attitudes towards nuclear power do not only vary across continents. The example of France shows that EU countries also rely heavily on nuclear power. For Germany’s closest partner, nuclear energy is an elementary part of energy policy and accounts for around 70 percent of electricity. A nuclear phase-out is not an issue in France. A new reactor is currently being built. However, a reduction in the proportion of nuclear power is planned – to 50 percent by 2030.

Although hardly any other state in the EU produces as much nuclear energy as the French (61.37 GW), 12 other members also operate nuclear power plants. In Belgium, for example, seven reactors are currently in operation, generating almost half of the country’s required electricity. According to a government decision, two reactors can continue to run until 2035 after Russia invaded Ukraine. The exit was previously planned by 2025.

Nuclear power plants are also an essential part of energy policy in Finland. Five reactors are currently in operation, with another scheduled to go online by the end of the year. With the latest new building, around 60 percent of Finland’s electricity is to be generated with nuclear power. The expansion is also a reaction to Russia, which turned off the power to the NATO accession candidate in mid-May this year. In addition, there are no major discussions about the expansion of nuclear energy in the country: around half of Finns want more nuclear energy. Tailwind that doesn’t exist in Germany.

Two reactors are currently running in Bulgaria and Romania. In the Czech Republic there are six reactors that cover a good 35 percent of the electricity requirement. Expansion is planned by 2040. In Slovakia, four reactors are connected to the grid, covering just over 50 percent of the electricity requirement. Two more are in the construction phase.

Spain produces almost 25 percent of electricity with the help of seven nuclear power plants. The phasing out of nuclear energy is controversial. New buildings are currently not planned. In Sweden, even ten reactors are allowed to be operated. In 2010, the decision to phase out nuclear energy was lifted. Around 35 percent of the electricity requirement is currently produced by six active nuclear power plants.

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Two new reactors are also to be built in Hungary to complement the four already active. President Viktor Orbán is counting on close cooperation with Russia. The Russian nuclear company “Rosatom” is responsible for the construction. This is intended to increase the share of electricity from nuclear power to 60 percent.

No reactors are currently in operation in Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta and Poland. However, some of these states have plans to change this. Poland, for example, wants to build its first reactor by 2033. In Lithuania, too, the government is planning to build new nuclear power plants because of the decoupling of Russian energy supplies. The decision to phase out nuclear energy was also overturned in the Netherlands. One reactor is currently in operation and two new ones are under discussion.

And in Germany? In Germany, as early as 1998, the red-green federal government implemented the demand for a renunciation of nuclear power and decided to phase out nuclear power. Eleven years later, the Christian Democrat-led government overturned the decision and in 2010 extended the reactor operating times. After Fukushima in 2011, Chancellor Angela Merkel again pushed for the exit – with success. Of the 17 reactors, only three remain today. Together they generate almost six percent electricity. your future uncertain.