However, one form of renewable energy has been just as controversial for Germany as it has been for the United States: nuclear energy. Yet Germany's reaction to the controversy is distinctly different. While Germany was the fourth-largest generator of nuclear power in the world in 2003, possessing more than 15 operating nuclear power plants, nuclear energy's unpopularity among environmentalists in Germany, led by members of the Green Party, has resulted in a policy of turning away from this form of energy. The Green Party was a member of the governing coalition from 1998 to 2005 and unlike the U.S. government, whose Energy Policy Act of 2005 contained plans for reviving nuclear energy production, the German government instituted in 2001 a plan to phase out all nuclear energy production by 2022. More receptive to the concerns of industry groups, Germany's chancellor since November 2005, Angela D. Merkel, has cautioned that the nuclear energy phaseout will cause a gap in energy production that creates an urgent need for the development of other energy technologies. Merkel has promised that Germany's commitment to renewable energy and environmental protection will continue. Merkel, who supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq, has been viewed as sympathetic to U.S. energy interests. She is also Germany's former minister for the environment and reactor safety and German's first female chancellor.
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