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Nuclear energy timeline

May 30, 2011

Germany's reaction to the nuclear catastrophe in Japan marks a drastic policy reversal. The first German nuclear reactor went online in 1962. The last one is now bound to go offline 60 years later.

demonstrators with "Nuclear power- no, thank you' logo
The disaster in Japan sparked big anti-nuclear protestsImage: AP

February 1962: Germany's first nuclear plant starts up in Kahl, southeast of Frankfurt.

1970-71: First anti-nuclear marches and protests take place in Germany.

January 1999: The Social Democrat-Green coalition government under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and the country's four main utilities start negotiations on a draft nuclear law.

June 2000: Schröder's government and the atomic industry agree on a nuclear consensus, a step-by-step nuclear phaseout by 2021.

April 2002: The new nuclear legislation takes effect - 16 years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Nineteen nuclear plants are in operation in Germany.

July 2005: Germany ends all nuclear waste shipments to Britian's Sellafield reprocessing plant and La Hague in France. Reprocessed nuclear material may only be shipped back to Germany. There are two interim storage sites, but no permanent storage site for the waste.

September 2010: The Christian Democratic-Free Democrat coalition under Chancellor Angela Merkel approves the extension of the lifespan of Germany's nuclear reactors by an average of 12 years, with the last one to shut down in 2036. Germany has 17 nuclear reactors.

February 2011: Five German federal states led by opposition parties file a lawsuit against the extension in Germany's Constitutional Court.

March 2011: The German government temporarily closes the country's seven oldest nuclear reactors after the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan's Fukushima plant; a safety probe into German nuclear reactors begins.

May 2011: The German government agrees to shut all its nuclear reactors by 2022. The eight oldest are to remain permanently shut, another six are to be taken offline by 2021. The remaining three most modern reactors are to stay online for another year until 2022.

Compiled by Dagmar Breitenbach
Editor: Nicole Goebel