PARIS, Sept 29 (Reuters) – To judge from the bounce in
German energy companies’ share prices, you might think Sunday’s
centre-right election victory means it’s springtime for nuclear
power in Germany.
The reality is more likely to be a longer atomic autumn
before ageing reactors are laid to rest. Both the conservatives
and the liberal Free Democrats want to prolong the lifetime of
Germany’s 17 existing nuclear plants, but not build new ones.
That will still be lucrative for utilities such as RWE
<RWEG.DE>, E.ON (EONGn.DE>, Vattenfall [VATN.UL] and EnBW
<EBKG.DE>, which face an uncertain future as Europe switches to
a greener energy mix and EU regulators force them to divest
their grids and pipelines.
Experts reckon the reactors, built between 1975 and 1989 and
due to be shut down by 2021 at the behest of a former left-green
government, could be extended by eight to 20 years. That will
require amending the nuclear exit law passed in 2000, which
could take up to a year.
Largely due to German opposition, atomic power was omitted
from the European Union’s strategy to promote low-carbon energy
and fight climate change. A change of heart in Europe’s biggest
economy may make EU energy policy more nuclear-friendly as a way
of cutting greenhouse gas emissions.