German nuclear phaseout to continue

23 November 2005

As Angela Merkel assumes the chancellorship of Germany, the 'grand coalition' government which she heads is still in deadlock over the planned nuclear phaseout of all 17 reactors by 2020.

The coalition agreed to form an government and also agreed to differ on the issue of nuclear power after Christian Democrat Angela Merkel, Germany's first woman chancellor, failed to convince Social Democrat leaders to extend the lifespan of nuclear power plants, despite considerable efforts. Instead, some older plants may be able to operate beyond their original shutdown date using the right to transfer unused production rights. However, special permission is required from the ministries of the environment, economy and the chancellor in order to transfer capacity from newer power stations to older ones so that the operational lives of the older power stations can be extended.

One concern could be that large quantities of production rights are transferred to older units in the hope that following the current legislative period, due to end in 2009, the returned government would overturn the original phaseout ruling. If the nuclear phaseout continues as planned, newer plants will be forced to close down long before their operational lives are due to expire. One alternative may see operators deliberately reduce output or extend outages in order to save quotas.

The issue of nuclear energy in Germany is expected to be re-examined as part of a comprehensive energy review some time in mid-2006 when the 1200MWe Biblis A is due for closure.


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