History of the Energiewende

Wyhl – the nuclear plant that never was

The Energiewende movement came out of the movement against nuclear power in the 1970s. One reason for the sustained success of the movement over the past few decades is its inclusiveness; from the outset, conservatives and conservationists worked together.

The Energiewende movement came out of the movement against nuclear power in the 1970s. In 1973, plans were announced to build a nuclear plant in the village of Wyhl in the Kaiserstuhl winegrowing area on the border to France. The decision turned out to be fateful, for it created a strong, sustained resistance movement across large parts of society. Students from nearby Freiburg joined forces with Kaiserstuhl winegrowers and scientists like Florentin Krause, author of Energiewende.

In 1983, the governor of the state of Baden-Württemberg reacted to the incessant protests by declaring the Wyhl project "not urgent," essentially abandoning plans for the plant indefinitely. The success of the movement encouraged people across Germany and Europe to believe that they could stop nuclear plants from being built. Throughout the 1980s, a number of local Energiewende groups were formed throughout Germany as people looked for ways to act locally.

This anti-nuclear movement was one reason why the Greens were founded as a political party. Around 1980, the Greens began consistently getting more than five percent of the vote – the limit required to enter Parliament.