Germany to phase out all nuclear power by 2020, deputy minister says, but chancellor says decision will not be made until reports from two separate government-appointed commissions are analyzed

LOS ANGELES , April 4, 2011 () – By the end of this decade, Germany will have phased out all of its nuclear power, said a deputy minister on Monday, reported Reuters on April 4.

Juergen Becker told Reuters that a decision was made to permanently close eight reactors by the end of this year and the remaining nine will be closed by the end of 2019.

The “residual risk” -- as demonstrated by the crisis in Japan -- is too great “to justify” having nuclear power, said Becker, speaking on the sidelines of an International Renewable Energy Agency meeting in the United Arab Emirates, Reuters reported.

Such a phase-out would result in profit losses of millions of euros yearly for big utility companies such as RWE AG, E.ON AG, EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg, and Vattenfall AB.

However, Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly said that her cabinet intends to analyze reports from two different government-appointed commissions before a decision is made on the country’s nuclear power, reported Reuters.

One of the commissions, the Ethics Commission for a Secure Energy Supply, held its first meeting on Monday and is expected to report its findings at the end of May.

Matthias Kleiner, head of that commission and president of the German Research Foundation DFG, told the Financial Times Deutschland in an article published on Monday that it made little sense to shut down Germany’s nuclear facilities and pay to import atomic energy, Reuters reported.

Germany’s utility industry association Bundesverband der Energie-und Wasserwirtschaft (BDEW) reported on Monday that Germany became a net importer of power, reported Reuters.

Much of Germany’s imported power comes from France, where state-owned utility EDF runs 58 reactors, one of which is an old plant in Fessenheim, near the Germany border.

Since March 17, when the government ordered reactors with a combined 7,000 megawatts of capacity to shut down, Germany has been importing 50 gigawatt hours of power daily, according to BDEW, Reuters reported.

Typically in March, Germany had been exporting a net 70 to 150 GWh daily.

The primary source of this article is Reuters, London, England, on April 4, 2011.

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