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BERLIN: Germany wants to shut all nuclear reactors by 2022, Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition declared on Monday, in a policy reversal drawn up in a rush after the Fukushima disaster in Japan.
The coalition, sensitive to accusations it may increase dependence on highly polluting brown coal, said it planned to cut power use by 10 per cent by 2020.
Ms. Merkel may be hard pressed to sell the plan as anything but a political defeat at the hands of Social Democrat and resurgent Green rivals and she quickly came under fire from abroad.
The proposal may be even more ambitious than the nuclear exit planned when the Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens were in power in 2000. It takes eight of 17 nuclear plants offline now and six more by 2021. But the most drastic decision by an industrialised country after Fukushima could still face opposition from utility firms.
Only nine months ago Ms. Merkel announced an extension of the lifespan of unpopular nuclear plants by an average 12 years. In March, after Japan's earthquake and tsunami, she reversed that and put Germany's entire energy strategy under urgent review.
“Our energy system has to be fundamentally changed and can be fundamentally changed. We want the electricity of the future to be safer and, at the same time, reliable and economical,” Ms. Merkel told reporters on Monday.
To accompany the nuclear exit, Germany plans to cut electricity usage by 10 per cent by 2020 and double the share of renewable energy sources to 35 per cent over the same period, according to a government paper seen by Reuters.
A disputed €2.3-billion-a-year tax on spent fuel rod swill not be scrapped even as the coalition plans to go ahead with the shutdown, said Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen.
Most voters in Germany oppose atomic energy, which provided 23 per cent of overall power before the seven oldest stations were shut down in March.p>Sweden, whose state-owned power group Vattenfall operates two of Germany's nuclear plants, said setting a date to shut them was the wrong approach and Berlin should instead focus on boosting the use of renewable energy.
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