Germany eyes 15-year nuclear extension for lower power prices

31 August 2010 18:57  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS)--Germany’s government aims to extend the life-span of the country’s nuclear power plants by 10 to 15 years in order to achieve lower power prices and meet climate change targets, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday.

“A 10-15 year extension of the life-span will result in important advantages for Germany in terms of electricity pricing, and [it will also determine] how quickly we will be able to achieve carbon dioxide [CO2] savings,” Merkel said on German state television after a cabinet meeting regarding the extension.

Merkel’s coalition government between her Christian Democrats and the Liberals had agreed to extend the lifespan of Germany's nuclear power plants when they took office in September 2009. However, they never spelled out by how many year the life span would be extended.

A previous Social Democrat-Green Party coalition government under former Chancellor Gerhard Schroder had committed Germany to phasing out nuclear power production by 2022.

Commentators said a 10-15 extension was a compromise between the economics minister and the environment minister. Economics minister Rainer Bruderle had favoured a 20-year extension.

Germany’s chemical industry was closely following the debate as it relies on access to affordable power to retain its international competitiveness.

Earlier this month, a number of industry leaders, including BASF chief executive Jurgen Hambrecht, opposed a planned tax on the nuclear industry that would come in the wake of the life-span extension.

Chemical producers are also opposed to a planned cut in tax breaks on energy consumption for energy-intensive industrial producers. That cut is part of an €80bn ($101bn) government savings package announced in June.

($1 = €0.79)

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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