Business as usual likely in German nuclear future

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Eighteen months of talks between utilities and the SPD/Greens government about the future of nuclear power in Germany have borne a mouse rather than an elephant. No dramatic changes in patterns of generation or fuel use will result, and more likely it will be a case of business as usual. The agreement, eventually to be written into an amendment of the nuclear energy act, foresees the closure of 19 nuclear plant after 32 years of normal operation. In theory the oldest, the 357 MW Obrigheim plant, should close this year, but it has already been granted an extra lease of life until the end of 2002 -- after the next federal election. Together the nuclear plant will be allowed to generate another 2632 TWh, or about five times the figure for German annual electricity generation. Each plant has been allocated a specific volume of TWh which it may generate, but the amounts are transferable to other plant, so it not clear when Germany's last nuclear station will be decommissioned. The newest, Neckarwestheim, came on-line in 1989. It will not be due to close until 2021 at the earliest.

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