Oil Report

German minister urges party to drop nuclear power

BERLIN, Feb 7 (Reuters) - German Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen has urged his conservative party allies to consider dropping plans to extend the use of nuclear power because of a public lack of acceptance.

Roettgen told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper his party “should carefully consider whether we want to make nuclear energy our unique feature” and that “even after 40 years there is no sufficient acceptance in the public for nuclear energy”.

Roettgen was quickly criticised by others in his conservative Christian Democrats on Sunday for suggesting in the interview published on Saturday that the ruling centre-right coalition drop plans to extend the lives of 17 nuclear plants.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government wants to change a law passed by an earlier centre-left government that requires the nuclear plants to be shut down the mid-2020s. Merkel is committed to allowing longer running times.

Nuclear power plants are Germany's most profitable large-scale power generators with investors in E.ON EONGn.DE and RWE RWEG.DE, Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg EBKG.DE and Sweden's Vattenfall [VATN.UL] eyeing billions of euros of extra profits.

“I’m speechless over such nonsense,” Michael Kretschmer, deputy leader for the CDU in parliament, told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper. “Do we really want to switch off the world’s safest nuclear reactors and then have to import electricity from foreign reactors that might not be as safe?”

Philipp Missfelder, another CDU leader in parliament, told Welt am Sonntag that Roettgen’s suggestion stands in sharp contrast to developments in other countries, where nuclear power is being expanded in part due to concerns about climate change.

“The world is moving in a different direction,” Missfelder said. “That’s why Germany going on its own in the nuclear power question doesn’t make sense.” (Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Nick Macfie)