• Germany's news in English

Germany to extend life of nuclear reactors

The Local · 6 Sep 2010, 11:21

Published: 06 Sep 2010 08:14 GMT+02:00
Updated: 06 Sep 2010 11:21 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The decision came after 12 hours of talks between senior politicians and means that some of the 17 plants will now be operational until the 2030s.

"The government yesterday approved a far-reaching and sweeping concept for energy production in the coming decades, making our power generation the most efficient and most environmentally friendly in the world," Merkel told reporters in Berlin.

"We have adopted a timetable taking us into the era of renewable energy as soon as possible. Our ultimate objective is arriving at the era of renewable energy."

The lives of older plants will be extended by eight years and those of newer ones by 14 years, Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen said.

He said nuclear utilities would have to pay part of their extra profits from the extension to develop renewable energy.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's predecessor Gerhard Schröder had decided to mothball the reactors by around 2020. But Merkel wanted to postpone the shutdown as part of a new "energy concept" for the country due to go before her cabinet on September 28.

"We have together found a way to take Germany forward," said Economy Minister Rainer Brüderle.

But the decision was criticised by Greenpeace and other environmental groups as well as Germany's Green Party.

And Austria's environment minister Niki Berlakovich termed it a "hard blow for the... development of renewable energy.

"The future of energy supplies lies indisputably in renewable energy," he said. "In any case, nuclear energy will not answer the problems related to climate or be a solution to reducing CO2 emissions."

Merkel called the extension a "bridge" until renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar power can produce more of Germany's power as it seeks to reduce dependence on coal.

A debate has raged in the country and in government over how long to extend the life of the reactors and what price to exact from the energy industry, which stands to benefit from the move.

Support for Merkel's coalition has tumbled in recent opinion polls and surveys suggest a majority of Germans opposed the idea of postponing the date that the country goes nuclear-free.

The chancellor, a former environment minister herself, had earlier hinted that her preference was for an extension of 10-15 years, saying this is what is "technically reasonable."

But not everyone in her squabbling coalition agreed.

A government-commissioned report last month was meant to bring clarity but with so many variables, not least predicting future electricity and oil prices and demographics, it ended up highly inconclusive.

It did however outline how high the stakes are.

Without nuclear power, the report said, Germany could forget about its target of reducing CO2 emissions by 80 percent in 2050 from 1990 levels.

Story continues below…

Environmental group Greenpeace heaped scorn on the report and accused Merkel of yielding to the powerful nuclear energy lobby, a charge echoed by an increasingly confident opposition.

"Ten or 15 years' extension. That sounds harmless, but it's not," said Tobias Riedl, Greenpeace's nuclear energy expert, on Friday.

Another item in the mix is the debate over how to make energy companies such as RWE, Vattenfall and EON pay for the extension of their plants and ensure a greater contribution to Germany's energy output from renewable sources.

As part of an €80-billion austerity programme for the period 2011 to 2014, Berlin wanted to tap energy firms, a quid pro quo for keeping their plants open for longer.

But the utility companies are putting all their considerable lobbying powers into resisting such a levy and the nuclear tax was not in the austerity package the cabinet approved Wednesday.

Merkel has a tricky challenge on her hands, as she needs to ensure any draft law would not be subject to approval in the Bundesrat upper house, where she lost her majority earlier this year.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

12:18 September 6, 2010 by jennyT
I wonder if those people who are jumping up and down about this know just how much KW of electricity they use and if they are willing to cut back on having TV, lighting and all the other goodies electricity brings. And do they know their electric cars actually run on electricity? Do they think renewable energy means such as solar and winds are capable of providing ALL that right now?

Unless they can come up with technical solutions for the problems of these renewable energy, I suggest them stop quaking with the empty slogans and THINK for a change...
Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd