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Germany extends nuclear plant life

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Chancellor Angela Merkel announces a "revolutionary" new energy policy
  • Longer reliance on nuclear power is an "unavoidable" step towards more use of renewables, the government says
  • Nuclear power is controversial in Germany

Berlin, Germany (CNN) -- Germany will keep its nuclear plants in operation for an average of more than a decade longer than planned, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Monday.

Plants built after 1980 will get an extension of 14 years, while older ones will be kept running an additional eight, she said.

That's a reversal of the previous government's policy, which aimed to phase out nuclear power relatively quickly.

Merkel said the changes were part of a "revolutionary" new energy policy which would lead towards an era of renewable power.

"We're looking to 2050," the head of the German government said.

"This is nothing more or less than a revolution in terms of energy supply. This is a revolution that we can plan, and that will qualitatively totally change our energy concerns over the next decades," Merkel said.

Nuclear power is controversial in Germany, a fact Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle inplicitly acknowledged on Monday.

"Longer running times for nuclear power stations are one unavoidable bridge into this new era," he said.

Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen called it "the most ambitious energy program that we have ever undertaken in Germany or elsewhere."

CNN's Claudia Otto contributed to this report.