Roland Pofalla, general secretary of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, has announced that if in power following the next general election in 2009, a CDU-led government would be willing to negotiate life extensions for the country’s nuclear plants. Along with its Bavarian Christian Socialist Union (CSU) sister party, the CDU currently forms part of a ‘grand coalition’ government with the anti-nuclear Social Democratic Party (SPD).

Following Pofalla’s announcement, operating utility RWE confirmed that extending nuclear power plant operations beyond the 32 years average operating lifetime under the country’s nuclear phaseout agreement, could be worth around €250 billion. Bilbis A is currently due to be shut down in 2010 but if it were to remain operational after this date, RWE could realise a profit of €300 million per year of additional operation, based on current electricity prices.

Juergen Grossmann, CEO of RWE, said: “We are moreover prepared within the scope of these new energy consensus talks – which we explicitly welcome – to make funds yielded by extended operation available for the promotion of energy efficiency, the expansion of renewable energies, research and development or other goals to be defined by the federal government.”

In addition, Grossmann stated that funds generated from extending the operation of the existing power plants could, if decided by the federal, state and municipal authorities, contribute to the creation of social tariffs for electricity consumers.

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