20110531 germany nuclear 54
Steam rises from the cooling towers at the Philippsburg nuclear power plant near Philippsburg, Germany. This plant will be shut down following Germany's decision to discontinue nuclear power. - 

BOB MOON: A high-voltage announcement from Germany today: It will shutter all nuclear power plants in the country within about a decade. Chancellor Angela Merkel is pushing for a transition to solar, wind and hydroelectric power.

Tony Roulstone is with the University of Cambridge Nuclear Energy Center. And let me ask you -- no nuclear power in Germany by 2022? Why? Is it all about Japan?

TONY ROULSTONE: The Fukishima event seems to have so traumatized the politicians in Germany that they are reversing their policy and going back to removing all nuclear by 2022.

MOON: You know, a lot of people out there say clean energy technologies aren't ready for prime time yet. Won't this just mean more coal power in the short term?

ROULSTONE: Well, it may well. The Germans have about 23 percent of their power from nuclear. They've invested very strongly in clean power. And about 70 percent of their electricity comes from green energies. If they take out more than 20 percent of nuclear, they are going to be pressed back on conventional power, whether its gas or coal.

MOON: Germany's chancellor says she wants to pressure other countries to do the same. Will they? Will the U.S. for example, follow suit on this?

ROULSTONE: I don't think it will have an effect on America. America is more driven by its own views and probably more driven by electricity prices but I think the world's going to split into countries which carry on with nuclear and the ones that don't. And I think the U.K.'s going to carry on, and I would expect at least at some rate the U.S. would also carry on.

MOON: Tony Roulstone with the Cambridge Nuclear Energy Center. Thanks for joining us.

ROULSTONE: Thank you.