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German nuclear exit continues as planned with next reactor to close Dec 31

London — Germany's planned phasing out of nuclear power will continue with the closure next Tuesday of the 1.5 GW Philippsburg 2, leaving six reactors with a combined 8 GW online for the next 2-3 years.

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Operator EnBW is set to disconnect the reactor from the grid at 7 pm local time (1800 GMT) on December 31. The reactor in southwest Germany has generated more than 375 TWh since it was commissioned in 1984, covering a sixth of power demand in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, the company said.

Federal environment minister, Svenja Schulze, said in a statement that the consensus in Germany behind the nuclear phase-out was "rock solid". The last reactor will close by the end of 2022.

"The nuclear exit makes our country safer [as it avoids radioactive waste]...It is important to emphasize in times when some propagate nuclear power as supposed climate savior that it solves no single problem, but creates new problems for a million years," Schulze said.

Germany decided in 2011 amid the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan to immediately close reactors built before 1980 and reverse a planned run-time extension for modern nuclear plants by setting final closure dates.

Nuclear operators still had to pay a combined Eur23 billion ($25.6 billion) into a state-run fund for the financing of mid- and long-term nuclear storage in Germany.

So far, two modern reactors were shut in 2015 and 2017, with Philippsburg 2 the third reactor to close.

The final shutdowns are more concentrated with three reactors set to close in December 2021 and the final three by the end of 2022.

In 2019, nuclear still generated over 70 TWh of electricity, covering some 12% of Germany's power demand.

-- Andreas Franke, andreas.franke@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Dan Lalor, daniel.lalor@spglobal.com