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Stress test shows Germany should extend lifespan of 2 nuclear plants - paper

BERLIN (Reuters) - Preliminary results of a power grid stress test show Germany should extend the lifespan of two of its three remaining nuclear reactors beyond the end of the year, German newspaper Handelsblatt reported on Thursday, citing industry sources.

Grid operators have been stress testing the transmission system to assess the risks of an escalation in the Russian gas supply crisis to the network as winter approaches, and the usefulness of extending the lifespans of nuclear reactors. Gas burning accounted for 15.3% of German electricity generation last year.

An industrial source confirmed to Reuters that two of the three tested scenarios suggested it made sense to extend the lifespan of the Isar II and Neckarwestheim II nuclear reactors in Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg.

An economy ministry spokesperson said the final results were not yet in, so no conclusion could be reached on the issue over which Germany's governing coalition is divided.

Former Chancellor Angela Merkel initiated legislation to halt the use of nuclear power by the end of 2022 after the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011, with a majority of voters in favour.

But attitudes are shifting amid fears of an energy crisis this winter following a decline in Russian gas deliveries - with the three-way coalition itself divided on the matter.

The Greens in particular have resisted extending the lifespan of the nuclear reactors, with Economy Minister Robert Habeck saying that extension would save at most 2% of gas use.

But the Free Democrats in particular have said it is better to extend the lifespans for a limited time than to bring coal plants back online.

(Reporting by Sarah Marsh and Markus Wacket; Editing by Richard Chang)