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In June 2000 a compromise was announced which saved face for the government and secured the uninterrupted operation of the nuclear plants for many years ahead.
The agreement, while limiting plant lifetime to some degree, averted the risk of any federally-enforced plant closures during the term of that government.
The most immediate effect of this change of policy was to terminate R&D on both the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor and the fast breeder reactors after some 30 years of promising work, since much of the work was in North Rhine-Westphalia, which was governed by the SPD.
But Germany’s biggest error is one commonly committed by countries that are trying to move away from fossil fuels and towards renewables.
In 2014 wind and solar PV had capacity factors of 17% and 11% respectively, compared with 92% for nuclear (IEA figures).
In 2011 Russia provided almost 40% of the gas, followed by Norway, Netherlands and the UK, while 14% was produced domestically.
In October 1998 a coalition government was formed between the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Green Party, the latter having polled only 6.7% of the vote.
As a result, these two parties agreed to change the law to phase out of nuclear power.