German economy minister calls France's focus on nuclear "outdated"
Germany's economy and climate minister Robert Habeck has denounced France's focus on nuclear power as "outdated." The neighbouring country was pursuing a "state-directed and capped energy supply by an outdated industry," the Green Party politician told a conference in Berlin, newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reported. Habeck said France had to renovate its numerous old nuclear power plants at a cost of about two billion euros per plant, adding that old reactors were becoming more and more prone to failure, with one out of five reactors in France currently being taken offline due to maintenance works. Investments in new plants did not not pay off either, he argued: "If you build new ones, everything takes four times longer, and the costs are gigantic." Habeck said he was sure that nuclear power would not turn into a competitive advantage for France. To the contrary, betting on renewables would benefit the German economy. "We will meet again in 2030," Habeck said with a view to France.
The role of nuclear power on the way to net-zero emissions splits the EU's two biggest member states, Germany and France. While Germany has decided to phase out nuclear power and will switch off its few remaining plants at the end of this year, France is betting heavily on the technology. Germany is highly critical of the decision by the EU Commission to label nuclear power a sustainable technology in its finance taxonomy. The two countries' economy ministers earlier this week agreed that both governments will attempt to overcome differences in energy policy and work towards solutions that benefit the EU as a whole.