From: Reuters
Published January 21, 2008 04:03 AM

EnBW chief warns of power capacity gap in Germany

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany risks power supply shortages if it does not press ahead with more power station projects and rethink its nuclear exit plan, the chief executive of southwestern utility company EnBW said on Monday.

"There is a big (generation) gap looming," Hans-Peter Villis said in an interview with the Handelsblatt business daily. "The industry is too complacent. That will have to change."

Planned coal-to-power projects were being cancelled because operators feared that tougher emissions trading rules, to curb carbon dioxide emissions from the plants, would add to running costs, he said.

At the same time, the cost of constructing new power generation plants had risen by 30 to 40 percent in the last six months alone amid worldwide demand for more capacity.

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EnBW has plans to build a new coal-fired plant at Karlsruhe and a hydroelectric plant at Rheinfelden in Germany.

EnBW, which is fighting to keep open its Neckarwestheim 2 reactor beyond 2010, was also convinced nuclear power should retain an important position in Germany's energy mix, he said.

This would mean altering Germany's national consensus that all its 17 nuclear plants , which contribute just under a third of all electricity, should be phased out by 2021.

Villis said Sweden had also gone back on its nuclear exit programme and he was confident of being able to lobby for a reversal at home.

He said he had talks scheduled in late February or early March with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss EnBW's specific problems. The company is well over a third reliant on nuclear power and it operations are far from the coast and major pipelines, which makes coal and gas transport more difficult.

Importing nuclear power into Germany from France, where its parent company EDF -- which owns 45 percent of EnBW -- operates the bulk of all power stations, was a less likely option as trans-border capacity was not sufficient, he said.

(Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Anthony Barker)

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