FRANKFURT, March 26 (Reuters) - Germany’s government on Friday confirmed that extending lifecycles of nuclear plants by 28 years was one option under discussion, which would allow the reactors to operate for up to a total 60 years.
“This is one of the possible alternatives,” Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle told reporters in Berlin.
The centre-right government, in power since last autumn, is examining how many years it wants to add to the lives of the 17 nuclear plants which under a previous government were allowed only 32 years of operations, ending in 2021 at the latest.
Currently, four, 12, 20 and 28 years are being discussed, the government said.
The nuclear industry says 60 years is a common lifespan for many reactors worldwide, even the slightest extension in Germany is opposed by a vociferous anti-nuclear movement.
The government has assigned nuclear a bridging role until the time that politically favoured renewable energy can provide a substantial part of national power requirements.
The question of how long this means and how additional revenues from competitively produced nuclear power will be shared between utilities and the public will play a big role in talks about a national energy plan, due to be published in the autumn.
This will lay down crucial rules for the future energy mix.
Renewables last year provided 16 percent of German electricity and nuclear 23 percent. [ID:nLFR6210ZG]
Nuclear operators EnBW EBKG.DE and RWE RWEG.DE are cutting the loads at two old plants heading for closure under the unrevised nuclear exit plan to avoid having to shut them before a fresh decision is made in Berlin. [ID:nLDE62N24Y]
Reporting by Markus Wacket
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