New Nuclear Power Extension Talks Expected for End of February

A new meeting of the so-called monitoring group  on the extension of the life-span of the 17 German nuclear power plants shall take place at the end of February, says Rheinische Post. The monitoring group consists of government representatives and representatives of the four major utilities E.ON AG, RWE AG, Vattenfall Europe AG and EnBW AG.It is regarded as certain that Neckarwestheim (EnBW) and Biblis A (RWE) can remain online until further decisions will be taken in autumn.  To achieve this,  so-called residual generation quantities (Reststrommengen) will have to be transferred from the Stade (E.ON) nuclear power plant. Stade was shut down in 2003 before fully using the capacity allocated to this plant by the  Nuclear Power Act (AtG).

According to government estimates, which are supported by an expert opinion, renewable energy could make up for nuclear energy by the year 2030. This would mean that the EnBW plant Neckarwestheim II would go offline eight years after the date currently prescribed in the AtG. To date renewable energy provides 16% of the German energy demand, while nuclear power provides 23%. According to the German Renewable Energy Federation (Bundesverband Erneuerbare Energien e.V. – BEE), renewables will be able to provide half the German energy demand in 2020.

In the coming weeks the Ministry for Economics and Technology, headed by Mr Brüderle (Free Democratic Party – FDP) and the Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, lead by Norbert Röttgen (Christian Democratic Union – CDU) shall develop an energy scenario, which shall serve as the basis for negotiations with the utilities.

The CEO of the Mannheim-based utility MVV Energie AG, which cooperates with seven municipal utilities under the brand 8KU, meanwhile warned of a distortion of competition should the life-span of the nuclear power plants be extended. Competitors would be driven out of the market and the “generation oligopoly” would be sustained.

Sources: Rheinische Post, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 28 January 2010, page 16