The application, which was also filed with the Federal Chancellery and the Federal Ministry of Economics, would extend the service life of Biblis A to the second half of 2011, beyond its current scheduled shutdown of 2008.

However, perhaps more significantly, the application also creates “leeway for conducting open debate about an energy concept for Germany,” says RWE, a none-too-subtle jab at the apparent inflexibility of the government over the country’s nuclear phase-out programme.

RWE was granted the option of transferring 107.25 TWh of production from Mülheim-Kärlich, which is being decommissioned as part of the agreement with the government, but hopes to extend the operating life of Biblis A in order to create a breathing space while the issues are further debated. The application is within the framework of the agreement and RWE has also applied for approval to transfer 30 TWh of the output still available from its Emsland nuclear station to Biblis A as an “auxiliary measure to provide assistance if the main application is rejected.”

Jan Zilius, chairman of RWE Power said: “We believe it would be wrong to establish an irreversible fait accompli by shutting down nuclear power stations before the concept has been finalised.”

Zilius expects a decision by the beginning of 2007.

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