Berlin: In the wake of nuclear crisis that emerged after twin disasters in Japan three months ago, Germany has decided to give up its nuclear power completely within the next 11 years amid concerns over reactor safety, Chancellor Angela Merkel has said.

In a policy statement before the Bundestag, lower house of parliament, on her centre-right coalition governments decision to shut down all 17 nuclear reactors by 2022, Merkel said, adding that last Autumn she had fought for extending the lifespan of the reactors.

But the events in Fukushima changed her attitude towards nuclear energy, she told the House. “Fukushima changed my approach towards nuclear energy,” she said.

The U-turn in Germany's energy policy comes after comprehensive security checks of the existing plants and it is based on the recommendations of an ethic commission set up by
the government, she said.

Move a Herculean task

Merkel described as an Herculean task to ensure the nation’s electricity supply without nuclear power, which presently has a 20 per cent share.

But the government will make sure that there will be no power shortage and any shortfall in electricity supply will be covered by coal-fired power stations. (In addition, one of eight  older reactors which were shut down soon after the nuclear catastrophe in Japan, will be
kept on a stand-by basis to step in if there is electricity shortage during the winter months.

The government plans to shut down all nuclear reactors step-by-step in eleven years and to increase the share of renewable energy in the electricity supply to 35 per cent by 2020 is a new architecture of energy supply quite unique worldwide, she said.

Opposition criticizes Merkel

The opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Green party criticised Merkel for taking ideas from their nuclear exit plan agreed ten years ago when they were in power
and presenting herself as the inventor of energy transformation in Germany.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, floor leader of the SPD in the Bundestag, reminded Merkel that until last year, she fiercely opposed the decision by the SPD-Green coalition government in 2000 to phase out all nuclear reactors by 2020.