Röttgen said public opposition to nuclear power was simply too widespread and warned his Christian Democratic Union it needed to give “serious thought to whether it wants to turn nuclear power into a unique selling point right now.”
“Even after 40 years, nuclear power doesn't have sufficient acceptance among the population,” he said.
Germany has 17 nuclear power plants in operation. In 2001, the government then led by Social Democrat Gerhard Schröder set the country on a path towards phasing out atomic energy.
The current centre-right government under Chancellor Angela Merkel has approved plans to get rid of its reactors by 2020, but high energy costs and greenhouse gas concerns have many conservatives second-guessing the plans.
Nevertheless, Röttgen said the government should demonstrate by autumn how it would begin to do away with nuclear power and adopt renewable energies instead. He did not give details.
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.