I’m celebrating today – for the simple reason that Germany closed down its three remaining nuclear reactors on Saturday 15th April.

I’ve followed the nuclear debate in Germany ever since I first got involved in green politics back in the 1970s, and was hugely inspired by the campaigns of Die Grünen against both nuclear power and nuclear weapons – seeing the two as inextricably linked. Interestingly, it’s as controversial a debate now as it was then – with a majority of people in Germany (including some Die Grünen voters) still believing that nuclear power should be part of the electricity mix.

As I argued back in 2011, I did not agree with the decision of the Merkel Government (in coalition with Die Grünen) to close down all its remaining reactors in response to the Fukushima disaster – well before the end of their scheduled operational lifetime. Inevitably, this decision caused an (albeit temporary) increase in burning coal and gas.

That’s now water under the bridge – and Germany’s energy system will now be completely nuclear-free, even if it will be dealing with the legacy of its nuclear waste for many years to come. As the German Environment Minster, Steffi Lemke, said: ‘Three generations have benefitted from nuclear power in Germany, but about 30,000 generations will be affected by the ongoing presence of nuclear waste.’

But my celebration has been sadly attenuated by the current nuclear frenzy going on here in the UK. I’ve been through many periods of nuclear hype over the years, but nothing quite like this one – with all the mainstream political parties, the industry itself and all mainstream media (including some sorely deluded muppets in the BBC and the Guardian) ramping up their ‘nuclear renaissance’ rhetoric in increasingly dishonest and fact-free ways.

I suspect they see this as a ‘now or never’ moment before economic reality kills off nuclear power once and for all – when that combination of renewables-storage-efficiency is so massively outperforming nuclear as to starve all nuclear options of the capital they will still need. Government subsidy can only go so far.

In the meantime, however, we have a Government still strenuously seeking investors in its godforsaken plans for two more ludicrously expensive reactors at Sizewell C – an asset that already looks totally stranded even before a Final Investment Decision is taken.

Even that, however, is just a sideshow in comparison to the hype around prospects for Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) here in the UK. In March, the Chancellor announced a new competition to identify the best value SMR design for the UK, with a view to its eventually handing over a full £1bn in co-funding to get that design off the ground. Ludicrous. But full marks to the Tories for ‘recycling’ here: the announcement sounded almost identical to the earlier competition it announced back in March 2016. (And it was only the fifth time that the Chancellor reconfirmed plans for a new Great British Nuclear agency!)

Apart from the nuclear industry itself, and all its happy-clappy cheerleaders, the majority of independent commentators continue to point out that SMRs cannot possibly deliver what we now need: safe, affordable, ultra-low-carbon electricity that can actually make a practical difference in meeting our Net Zero target by 2035. And that’s before one thinks about the nuclear waste nightmare: a new study published in Proceedings of the American National Academy of Sciences estimates that SMRs will create 30 times as much nuclear waste (per unit of electricity generated) as conventional reactors.

It’s all just a massive waste of time and public money – but with devastating consequences. If we could just free ourselves of our residual hankering after nuclear power, we could (finally!) double down on the infinitely more cost-effective renewables-storage-efficiency alternatives. With massive benefits in terms of decarbonisation, jobs, addressing fuel poverty and so on.

The case for this transition (away from fossil fuels and nuclear) is now incontrovertible but two remaining barriers stand in the way of us doing what Germany has managed to do.

The first is the endlessly repeated argument from nuclear industry spokespeople that nuclear power is the only way of providing the baseload generation our current electricity supply system depends on – once big thermal coal and gas plants are taken off the grid. There was indeed a time when grid stability depended on ‘always on’ big power stations. But that is now widely seen (outside the nuclear industry) to be a completely outmoded concept.

This was recently confirmed by a statement from Minister of State Graham Stuart in response to a Parliamentary Question from Caroline Lucas about ‘the amount of baseload electricity generation that is required by the UK each day’. Here’s what he said: ‘Although some power plants are referred to as ‘baseload generators’, there is no formal definition of this term. The Department also does not place requirements on generation from particular technologies. As such, it is not possible to provide this information.’

In other words, the Government acknowledges that there is now no specific baseload expectations of nuclear or anything else. It is now all about ‘lowest cost’, rather than baseload, in terms of which source of supply can be preferentially switched on, taking advantage of the much more resilient and flexible grid that we have today. It’s true, however, that there will need to be lot more investment in configuring that future grid to take full advantage of the renewables-storage-efficiency alternative, as is already fully under way in Germany.

So that’s another dead duck in the case made for new nuclear. Which just leaves the final barrier: the continuing reality that our nuclear weapons capability still depends very heavily on maintaining a civil nuclear power programme – not just to guarantee a continuing supply of nuclear engineers and R&D funding, but to keep the public in the dark about the increasingly insupportable costs of renewing our notionally ‘independent’ nuclear deterrent.

Which takes us right back to the origins of the German anti-nuclear movement in the 1970s. These ‘evil twins’, nuclear weapons and nuclear power, have forever been joined at the hip, and always will be until the world rids itself of the deadly incubus of nuclear weaponry.