Röttgen, a member of the conservative Christian Democrats, told the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper that even by the most sceptical of forecasts, Germany would reach its goal of getting 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, thus allowing the country's remaining nuclear power stations to shut down. Renewable sources currently supply 16 percent of Germany's electricity.
Röttgen also rejected criticism from within the centre-right government that he was being unfaithful to its position of not talking about nuclear power station lifespans until after the official energy concept had been prepared.
"That is an argument, but it is not correct," he said. "In the coalition contract it says that nuclear power is a stopgap until renewable energy can take over the supply reliably and at competitive prices. That's exactly the line I am following."
By 2030, Germany's youngest nuclear power stations will have reached a lifespan of 40 years, eight longer than that agreed on by former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's centre-left coalition of Social Democrats and Greens.
The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) believes that this target is still achievable. "We can still cover 40 percent from renewable energy by around 2020," UBA president Jochen Flasbarth told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper on Saturday.
Röttgen also compared Germany's energy policy favourably with that of the United States, where President Barack Obama intends to build new nuclear power stations.
"The US has an outdated energy supply structure and will not be able to switch to environmentally friendly electricity as quickly as we can," he said. "Germany is a technological leader in renewable energy, which is where the jobs of the future can be created."