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Germany polls revives nuclear power

world Updated: Sep 28, 2009 23:02 IST
Vera Eckert
Vera Eckert
German Chancellor Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s majority for a new centre-right government means she can rewrite a national nuclear phaseout deal by allowing reactors to run longer than laid down by her predecessors.

Nuclear operators’ shares rose on Monday, the day after the election, while carbon prices crept higher and power fell with oil, as Merkel’s conservatives and the pro-business Free Democrats aimed for a quick coalition.

The election outcome may be a precursor for more nuclear projects in other European countries and a contributor to lower carbon emissions in Europe, but is no carte blanche for new reactors on German soil, which the public still opposes.

“We need nuclear energy as a bridging technology to keep power prices stable and to comply with our climate protection goals,” Katherina Reiche, a senior conservative lawmaker working on reactor safety and the environment, told ARD television.

“We intend to work towards a lengthening of the plants’ running times,” she said, confirming pre-election plans.

Shares in nuclear operator E.ON were up 3.7 per cent and those in rival RWE rose 3.1 per cent, making them top gainers in the blue-chip DAX.

Seven nuclear plants totalling 6,200 megawatts of power capacity would have had to close in the coming four years without a change of government, and may now be kept open.

Nuclear energy emits virtually no carbon dioxide, which in theory could be bearish for CO2 emissions rights, but analysts said the effect will be minimal in the years through to 2012.

The opposition Green and Social Democratic parties have vowed to uphold opposition to a loosening of the nuclear law and have the potential to mobilise powerful grassroots lobbies.