“One can use atomic energy in the long run only when the majority of the people accept it,” he said. “This hasn't been the case for years and in my estimation it's not going to change.”
The statement from Röttgen, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, would appear to draw a line under the new centre-right government's decision to abandon a total phaseout of nuclear power by 2020. Merkel has said that the life of some reactors should be extended to use nuclear energy as a "transition energy" until renewables like solar and wind can produce more power.
But Röttgen, a confidant of the chancellor, was unwilling to consider a permanent revival for atomic energy.
As for whether extending the use of nuclear reactors would make energy more affordable for consumers, the environment minister said that such a promise would be “dishonest.”
“If we extend the terms, then it would be to invest the extra money in renewable energy sources,” he told Bild.
Nuclear energy is deeply unpopular in Germany and activists often stage protests at the Gorleben atomic waste depot in the state of Lower Saxony. The government has approved plans to get rid of its reactors by 2020, but high energy costs and greenhouse gas concerns have Merkel's coalition government second-guessing the plans.