A spectacular controlled explosion brought down the two cooling towers of a disused nuclear plant in southern Germany early yesterday morning to make way for a direct current transformer station, according to the utility provider EnBW.

Germany took another step toward completing its withdrawal from nuclear power when EnBW pulled the plug on the Philippsburg 2 power station on New Year's Eve 2019, leaving half a dozen plants still to close over the next two years.

The new direct current transformer station at the Philippsburg site will be used to transport electricity from northern to southern Germany, the utility said in a written statement.

The timing of the towers' destruction, shortly after 6am, was kept secret, according to EnBW, so as not to attract crowds while coronavirus restrictions are in place.

Greenpeace welcomed the destruction, saying it should stand as a symbol to turn from "outdated energy supply" to renewables.