Merkel flags 15 years for nuclear extension

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday night that the lifespan of the nation's nuclear power plants should be extended by 10 to 15 years beyond the planned phase-out starting in 2021.

Merkel flags 15 years for nuclear extension
Photo: DPA

An extension of 10 to 15 years was “technically reasonable,” the chancellor said in an interview with TV channel ARD.

Merkel’s conclusions were based on a report by experts, widely quoted by German media on Saturday, which recommended an extension of 12 to 20 years to allow “the best outcomes for climate protection and the economy”.

Centre-left Social Democratic (SPD) leader Sigmar Gabriel threatened the government with a constitutional challenge to the extension.

If the upper house, or Bundesrat, was bypassed on the issue – a tactic Merkel may need to resort to – “then we will present before the Constitutional Court,” he told broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk on Monday morning.

The pro-business Free Democrats general secretary Christian Lindner defended the planned extension and said he was confident his party – the junior members of the ruling coalition – would reach an agreement with the conservative CDU.

“Yes, there is a common position here,” he told broadcaster ARD.

He added the discussion was clearly moving in the direction of an extension for a “medium period” of between 10 and 20 years, though the precise period would be the subject of further debate.

The phasing out of 17 German nuclear power plants starting in 2021 had been planned by Merkel’s predecessor Gerhard Schröder.

Merkel’s government, however, pushed back the programme and had not fixed a new timetable for the phase-out.

In a statement on Friday, Merkel said renewable energies should supply half of all energy needs by 2050 and that nuclear and coal power would continue until supplies could be met entirely by clean energy.

A poll published on Friday found that 56 percent of Germans are against keeping nuclear power plants beyond 2021.

The Greens have called for an anti-nuclear demonstration to take place on Wednesday in Berlin.

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German households to receive relief for gas costs ‘starting in January’

To help German residents with skyrocketing energy costs, the government is planning to provide relief starting in January, according to draft legislation.

German households to receive relief for gas costs 'starting in January'

Through the gas price cap, the so-called Gaspreisbremse, both German residents and companies will receive retrospective relief for their gas costs starting in January 2023, according to the draft. 

Previously the relief payments were set to stretch between March 2023 and spring 2024, with 25,000 larger businesses, as well as almost 2,000 hospitals and schools to receive the help starting in January. 

READ ALSO: How much could households save under Germany’s new price cap?

The German government is reacting to the sharp rise in energy prices with energy price brakes worth billions and wants to soften the blow on both private households and companies. 

Germany will also be divvying out a one-off energy relief payment in December.

READ ALSO: When will people in Germany get their December gas bill payment?

How much will households and businesses receive?

Under the gas price cap, households and small and medium-sized enterprises are to receive a guaranteed gas gross price of 12 cents per kilowatt hour for 80 percent of their current consumption. For the remaining 20 percent of consumption, the contract price is set to apply.

For district heating, the guaranteed gross price is to be capped at 9.5 cents. 

Starting in January, a gas price brake is also planned for industry. These large consumers are to receive a guaranteed price of 7 cents per kilowatt hour net for 70 percent of their previous consumption volume.

The largest part of the energy price brake is to be financed by a “defence umbrella”, or special reserve, totalling up to €200 billion. The government is still taking on new debt in order to finance the energy caps. 

Russia’s war against Ukraine has increasingly aggravated the situation on the energy markets in Germany and Europe in the course of 2022, the draft states. 

In particular, the recent large price increases for natural gas and heat represent a “considerable, in some cases existence-threatening burden for residents and companies in Germany,” it continued. “They are an enormous socio-political and economic challenge.”


relief – (die) Entlastung

Natural gas – (das) Erdgas

Consumption – (der) Verbrauch

cushion/soften a blow – abfedern

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