BERLIN Jan 14 The issues of climate change and
energy security will play an increasingly important role in a
German debate on whether to extend nuclear power beyond 2021,
Vattenfall chief executive Lars Josefsson said on Wednesday.
At a news conference announcing the appointment of former
International Energy Agency head Hans Blix to Vattenfall's
nuclear safety council, Josefsson said the debate about nuclear
power in other countries had advanced further than in Germany.
The chief executive of the Swedish parent company spoke in
Germany where its Vattenfall Europe subsidiary provides power to
northern and eastern parts of the country. He noted Poland and
others plan to expand nuclear power use.
"The discussion in Germany will continue," Josefsson said.
"There are two important components of the discussion: the
climate change problem and, secondly, energy security. These two
issues will push the discussion forward in Germany."
Nuclear supplies just under 30 percent of Germany's power
needs with about half coming from coal and a small but growing
share from renewable energy. So far the government is sticking
to a 2001 law to phase out nuclear reactors by 2021.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats want to
extend the use of nuclear power and have the backing of German
industry, which is worried about future energy supplies. But the
Social Democrat coalition partners oppose any change in the law.
"The issue of extending nuclear power use in Germany is a
political question," Josefsson said.
He added: "In Germany it is not possible to build new
nuclear power plants at the moment. Which energy sources Germany
uses in the future is a question for the Germans to decide.
"As a company with international operations, we're seeing
that many countries are putting together plans to build new
nuclear power plants. Poland, for example, wants to build new
nuclear power plants.
"We're saying 'we're ready and have the know-how," he said.
"In the battle against climate change, we believe nuclear power
is indispensable. If Germany comes to a different conclusion,
that's okay for Vattenfall. We live in a dynamic world."
Josefsson said Vattenfall as a group aims to provide
climate-neutral power by 2050 at the latest, up from about 50
percent CO2-free energy production currently.
He said the 2050 target will be met with three sources:
renewables, carbon capture and storage (CCS) coal, and nuclear.
"Our goal is only achievable with all three," he said. The
Nordic countries naturally have a large share of hydropower.
On Tuesday, Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk said
Poland's top utility will oversee construction of up to two
nuclear plants as part of a wider push for diversification.
Separately, Vattenfall Europe AG chief executive Tuomo
Hatakka said he could not say how long Germany's Kruemmel and
Brunsbuettel nuclear plants would remain offline.
Both have been grounded for repairs and checks since a fire
in 2007, which triggered short circuits.
This has caused embarassment for Vattenfall but has also
allowed the operator to wait out if Germany's anti-nuclear laws
are reviewed should there be a change of government in 2010.