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Germany

Study recommends extending nuclear plant lifetimes

A study commissioned by the German government has recommended an extension of up to 20 years to the life of nuclear power plants, according to reports. The government faces resistance if it presses ahead.

A nuclear plant

The report was based on a range of scenarios for plants

A study commissioned by the German government has recommended an extension of up to 20 years to the life of nuclear power plants, according to reports.

Experts from Germany's Institute of Energy Economics at the University of Cologne (EWI) were asked to give their advice to the government on a range of scenarios about extending the operational lifetimes of plants by four, 12, 20 and 28 years.

The study recommended that nuclear power plants should be kept open for between 12 and 20 years more than currently planned, the German news magazine Focus reported Saturday.

A number of studies, many of which have come to different conclusions, have been recently issued by think-tanks and environmental organizations.

After a tour of power plants around the country, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that renewable energies should supply half of all energy needs by 2050 and that nuclear and coal power would continue until supplies could be met entirely by clean energy.

Evaluating outcomes for climate, economy

Angela Merkel

The chancellor has completed four days of touring energy facilities

The assessment was based on factors such as electricity prices, energy security and carbon emissions. According to the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, experts believe that an extension would allow "the best outcomes for climate protection and the economy."

The coalition government of Merkel, which aims to overhaul its energy policy by the end of September, received the study on Friday. The phasing out of German power plants had been planned by Merkel's predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder.

According to a law passed in 2002 by the then-ruling SPD-Greens coalition, all of Germany's nuclear power plants were due to go offline by 2022.

Merkel's government has said it intends to extend that deadline. Until recently, it had been thought that any legal change would need to be approved by the Bundesrat, Germany's upper house of parliament, which represents the country's 16 states.

Bypassing the upper house?

Member of the German Constitutional Court

State ministers plan to take a fight against any extension to the Constitutional Court

However, after the May election in North Rhine-Westphalia, the center-right coalition lost its majority in the upper chamber and plans to bypass the Bundesrat entirely were hinted at - infuriating opposition parties.

The government now faces resistance to its plans with nine out of 16 German states opposed to them, including Hamburg, Thuringia and Saarland which are led by Merkel's own Christian Democrats.

Ministers from both North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate have said that they will press for a judicial review in Germany's Constitutional Court, if the government goes ahead without Bundesrat approval.

A poll released by ZDF television on Friday showed that 56 percent of those surveyed were opposed to an extension while 38 percent supported it.

Author: Richard Connor (AFP/dpa/AP)

Editor: Sean Sinico

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