German Chancellor Angela Merkel began a four-day tour of Germany's energy facilities Wednesday with a visit to a wind power park and a wind turbine manufacturer in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania near the Baltic Sea.
On Thursday, Merkel is scheduled to visit the European Energy Exchange in Leipzig, followed by trips over the next few days to energy sites all over the country, including a nuclear power plant, renewable energy sites, and a house designed to minimize energy use.
Merkel's visit comes as her coalition government works on a new energy concept for Germany, which is set to be unveiled at the end of September. One of the key points in the energy concept is the debate over extending the running-life of Germany's nuclear power plants.
Nuclear question mark
Under a previous government agreement from 2002, Germany was supposed to be free of all nuclear power by 2020. However, this seems unlikely as the current government favors using nuclear plants as a "bridging technology" until renewable sources of energy can cover the country's power needs.
Additionally, Merkel has proposed a tax on nuclear fuel rods, much to the chagrin of nuclear companies. Some have said if the tax on fuel rods is imposed, it will force them to shut down some smaller plants due to costs.
The chancellor hopes to use her visit to the nation's power facilities to gain personal insight into all aspects of the energy industry in Germany as her government moves forward with the widely debated energy concept.
Author: Matt Zuvela (apn/AFP/dpa)
Editor: Rob Turner