In the first half of October 2014, electricity production from nuclear energy exceeded the 5,000 terawatt hour (TWh) mark in Germany for the first time since it first started to be used. This amount is equivalent to approximately eight times Germany’s current annual electricity production. A total of 36 plants over the years generated this power for electricity consumers in around 7 million operating hours (computing to approx. 800 reactor operating years). The highest annual figure achieved for electricity production from nuclear energy in Germany was 171.3 TWh in 2001; at 34.2 percent it achieved the highest share in the national electricity supply for the Federal Republic of Germany in 1989 prior to reunification.
Dr. Ralf Güldner, President of the German Atomic Forum (DAtF), stressed, “There are presently nine nuclear power plants operating in Germany. Some of these plants will still be connected to the grid into the next decade. Therefore, nuclear energy in Germany will continue to make its contribution towards an environmentally friendly, cost-efficient and, in particular, safe power supply both now and in the future.” Nuclear power plants are able to respond flexibly to the fluctuating power input from renewable energies. They can also decrease their electricity production at any time or raise it up again just as speedily and reliably if more power is required. As a result, Germany’s nuclear power plants contribute to grid stability and are available for base load around the clock.
The use of electricity produced from nuclear energy in Germany began with the VAK Kahl which first fed power into the grid on 17 June 1961. This was the starting point for the impressive industrial success story of nuclear technology in Germany which led to the construction and operation of some of the most powerful nuclear reactors in the world in their day. German nuclear power plants with their outstanding reliability are regularly ranked among the international top ten for the production of electricity from nuclear energy and have already been world champions in electricity production 28 times since 1981. The fact that the nuclear industry in Germany with its well-defined safety culture sets globally recognized standards and will continue to set them in future is also part of this success story. Nuclear technology from Germany is sought-after internationally and contributes significantly to the continued development of safety standards especially since the accident in Fukushima.
5,000 TWh electricity from nuclear energy in the base load supply also signifies a substantial contribution to climate protection: allowing for the generating structure in Germany from 1961 to the present day, it has prevented around five billion tons CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere. At current levels, this equates to six years of CO2 emissions for Germany.