BERLIN -- German lawmakers have overwhelmingly approved the government's plan for the country to shut down all its nuclear power plants by the end of 2022.

Parliament's lower house voted 513-79, with eight abstentions, for the shutdown plan in Europe's biggest economy. Most of the opposition voted in favor.

Thursday's decision sets Germany on the road to an ambitious build-up of renewable energy.

Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen tells lawmakers: "This will be good for our country, because we all stand together. So let's get to work."

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government performed an about-face after Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant was ravaged by an earthquake and tsunami in March.

Only last year, it had decided to extend the life span of Germany's 17 nuclear reactors.