Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet has long supported extending the lifetimes of Germany's nuclear power plants. Previous plans to limit negotiations to a 20-year extension have apparently been scrapped.
Previous plans would shut off the last plant in 2022
The German government is willing to consider extending the gradual closure of nuclear power plants by up to 28 years, according to an interview with Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen by the Munich-based daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Friday.
A 28-year extension would have the last nuclear power plant go off the grid in 2050. A compromise by the previous center-left government and power companies would have the last nuclear plant shut off in 2022.
Roettgen stressed that "no preliminary decision has yet been made" and that the government was simply considering all its options. Evaluators are now to consider scenarios of extending the phase-out by four, 12, 20 and 28 years.
Roettgen stressed that no preliminary decisions have been made
Members of parliament in Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and in the Free Democratic Party, the junior coalition partners, also spoke out in favor of considering a 28-year extension.
Peter Altmaier, head of the parliamentary union of Christian Democrats and Free Democrats, said in an interview with the regional daily Leipziger Volkszeitung on Sunday that the government had to be realistic about its plans.
"I think it's also a question of the responsibility one has to the public not to put out fantasy numbers in the world," he said. "What is actually enforceable also depends on whether you have good policy arguments."
Opposition parties criticized the potential extensions, with the deputy chair of the Social Democrats, Ulrich Kelber, calling them "death for renewable energy."
"This will lead to more rising costs for consumers and taxpayers - for electricity and even more for the disposal of atomic waste," he said.
Editor: Nancy Isenson