The German government has announced its plans to shut down all of its 17 nuclear power plants by 2022. Seven of these were already suspended in the wake of Japan's Fukushima disaster. Another six plants will close by 2021, while three more will keep operating until 2022 as a standby in the case of energy shortages. German Chancellor Angela Merkel took the decision to terminate the whole nuclear programme, because of what happened in Japan, after a 12-hour meeting with her ruling coalition. Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen told reporters there was no going back, saying: "This decision is consistent, decisive and clear. There will be no clause for revision." This is a U-turn of the previous government's policy to continue with nuclear power until 2035.
Germany currently gets 23 per cent of its energy from its nuclear power plants. Chancellor Merkel put forward another plan for ending her country's reliance on nuclear energy. She said Germany would move towards a "safe, reliable and economically viable" alternative by doubling renewable energy production over the next ten years. She also called for policies that would see energy consumption cut by ten per cent. She said: "This is a big challenge, but it brings with it a huge chance for future generations." She believes abandoning nuclear power will make German companies world leaders in alternative energies, especially in the production of solar panels and wind turbines. "We will be a trailblazer as the first large industrial country to try this," she said.