BERLIN—Germany should phase out nuclear power by 2021, according to a leaked draft of a report from the "Ethics Commission on Safe Energy Supply" created by Chancellor Angela Merkel in the wake of the Fukushima catastrophe. The commission is chaired by Klaus Toepfer, former head of the United Nations Environment Programme, and Matthias Kleiner, head of the German Research Foundation, the country's largest funding agency. The 17-member commission also includes representatives from industry, research, and politics, as well as a Roman Catholic cardinal and a protestant bishop.
The 28-page draft, a copy of which ScienceInsider has obtained, recommends permanently shutting down the country’s seven oldest nuclear reactors, which were taken off line shortly after the problems at Fukushima became clear. The temporary shutdown has demonstrated that the 8.5 gigawatts produced by the reactors can be easily replaced by other sources, the report says.
In addition, the commission “recommends a complete withdrawal from nuclear energy.” The experience at Fukushima “demonstrates the limitations of human disaster-preparedness and emergency measures,” even “in a highly organized, high-tech country like Japan.” A total withdrawal “is necessary to rule out risks in principle. It is possible because less risky alternatives exist,” the report says. With new, more-efficient power plants run on renewable sources, as well as natural gas and coal, a phaseout is possible without increasing Germany’s carbon dioxide emissions and without causing significant economic problems.