Watch Germany Blow up Two Nuclear Cooling Towers as Minister Says 'The Future Lies in Renewable Energies'

Drone footage shows the moment when two massive cooling towers at a former nuclear power plant in Germany were demolished in a controlled explosion.

Operator EnBW confirmed a demolition at the Philippsburg site, in southwest Germany, was initiated by targeted blasts in lower area of ​​the towers and took place shortly after 6 a.m. yesterday, a scene which lacked spectators due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Officials described the change as being an "important milestone" in the nation's energy transition, moving it one step closer to a greater reliance on renewables. Germany aims to see all nuclear plant reactors taken offline by the end of 2022.

The Philippsburg power plants' reactors were previously shuttered in 2011 and 2019 as part of those plans, the Associated Press reported.

According to EnBW, the land will soon be used by TransnetBW, a subsidiary managing the state's electricity grid, to house a converter that will bring power generated from renewable energies from the north to the south.

"Two relics of the nuclear power era are gone: a visible sign that the nuclear phase-out is progressing in Germany," tweeted environment minister Svenja Schulze. "The last nuclear power plant will also be switched off by 2022. The future lies in renewable energies that are safer, cheaper and more sustainable."

The hulking 500-foot towers, once used to contain residual heat from the nuclear facility, came down within seconds of each other in the blasts. As they collapsed into themselves in less than one minute, footage shows huge plumes of smoke rising into the sky.

Today, the cooling towers of the nuclear plant in Philippsburg, Germany were demolished using explosives.
Drone footage from above the towers when it happened.

— Elias Probst (@eliasp) May 14, 2020

These are the most vivid and amazing pictures of the phaseout of nuclear energy in #Germany - blasting of the two cooling towers in #Philippsburg. Footage via @EnBW

— Petra Sorge (@petrasorge) May 14, 2020

Zwei Relikte des Atomkraft-Zeitalters sind weg: Ein sichtbares Zeichen, dass der Atomausstieg in Deutschland vorankommt. Bis 2022 wird auch das letzte AKW abgeschaltet. Die Zukunft liegt in erneuerbaren Energien, die sicherer, kostengünstiger und nachhaltiger sind. #Philippsburg

— Svenja Schulze (@SvenjaSchulze68) May 14, 2020

Officials said the technique, known as "drop blasting," had been practiced more than 50 times in Germany when demolishing cooling towers.

The operator apologized for not releasing the demolition date to the public in advance, but said it had been a necessary secrecy as gatherings of people are not allowed due to government policies in place to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"Originally there was no question that we would announce the date of the demolition and enable interested citizens of the region to watch the case of the cooling towers," said Jörg Michels, head of the EnBW nuclear power division. "The coronavirus pandemic and the associated government regulations then forced us to completely change our approach.

"It was not easy for us, but after weighing up all aspects it was clear that the energy transition and health protection must have priority.

"We then agreed with the police, the Ministry of the Environment and the surrounding communities and districts not to announce the exact date and time of the explosion in advance. In hindsight, I ask for your understanding of this procedure again."

The demolition was carried out and monitored by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Environment and independent experts working on behalf of the state.

German officials made the decision to scrap nuclear power in 2011 in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear power station explosion in Japan, the BBC reported.

The Baden-Württemberg ministry explains on its website the move posed challenges for its industrial region, as its energy supply was once 50 percent from nuclear. Officials are now investing in renewable sources, including wind, solar and hydro.

In fact, by the year 2020, authorities say renewable energies should cover 25 percent of its final energy demand. "By 2050, a total of 80 percent of electricity, heat and fuels are supposed to come from renewable sources," the ministry said.

"Electricity and heat are now to be gradually converted to renewable sources," it said. "The overriding principle is and remains a secure power supply. The general public must be provided with a safe, affordable, consumer-friendly, efficient and sustainable supply of electricity and gas which relies more and more on renewable energy."