Christian Democrat Angela Merkel has become Germany’s first woman chancellor, but failed to convince Social Democrat leaders to extend the lifespan of nuclear-power plants, despite considerable efforts. Instead, some older plants may be able to operate beyond their original decommissioning date using the right to transfer unused production rights. However, special permission is required from the ministries of the environment, economy and the Chancellor in order to transfer capacity from newer power stations to older ones so that the operational lives of the older power stations can be extended.

One concern could be that large quantities of production rights are transferred to older units in the hope that following the current legislative period, due to end in 2009, the returned government would overturrn the original phase out ruling. If the nuclear phase out continues as planned, newer plants will be forced to close down long before their operational lives are due to expire.

The issue of nuclear energy in Germany is expected to be re-examined as part of a comprehensive energy review some time in mid-2006 when the 1,200 MW Biblis A is due for decomissioning.