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Austria to discontinue imports of nuclear power

Austria has never had a nuclear power plant, but the country does import power from its neighbors, as is common practice in the EU. Now, the Austrians aim to ensure that none of that power comes from nuclear plants.

 - The Austrians have never produced nuclear power, but now they want to make sure they also are not importing any.
The Austrians have never produced nuclear power, but now they want to make sure they also are not importing any.
Source: Engelbert Hosner/pixelio.de

Last week, the Austrian government resolved to stop imports of nuclear power by the end of 2014. Though the country has never had a nuclear plant after resolving in 1986 to remain nuclear-free, it nevertheless continued to import power – especially from the Czech Republic and Germany – without specifying the origin of that electricity.

But starting on January 1, 2015, Austrian utilities will have to produce certificates of origin for imports of power – and they will be banned from purchasing electricity with nuclear certificates. That year, Austria will implement a "nuclear-free quality" label for electricity to demonstrate to power consumers that they are not consuming any nuclear power.

Since Germany began to phase out nuclear, there has been widespread criticism of the country, which is charged with shifting nuclear power production to neighboring France and the Czech Republic. Critics even charged that German technology is safer than the eastern European plants that Germany allegedly would have to import more power from; nonetheless, the charges remained unfounded – Germany continues to be a net exporter of electricity and actually saved France from suffering blackouts this winter.

Austria's decision to implement certificates shows, however, that a country can even choose to go completely nuclear-free. As Greenpeace argues, Austria's decision will affect plans for future nuclear power plants in the surrounding area, as it makes nuclear less profitable. And if other countries follow suit, the profitability of nuclear could be reduced on large scale. (Craig Morris)

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