Germany’s nuclear providers set to be hit with massive atomic phase out bill

Germany’s drive to go nuclear-free was started by a sway in public opinion following the Fukushima nuclear disaster. [IAEA Image bank]

Germany’s energy companies should pay €23.34 billion into a state fund to finance the country’s phase out of nuclear power, according to an independent commission set up in 2015. EURACTIV’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.

The KFK commission, which was set up to investigate how best to finance the dismantling of nuclear reactors and nuclear waste storage, announced its proposal on Wednesday (27 April).

When the Fukushima nuclear disaster shocked the world in 2011, Germany took the decision to launch a phase-out of nuclear power. The commission, made up of 19 members, has analysed the issue since October and tried to balance safety, practical and economic concerns. The companies that are set to be affected have so far refused to compromise on the billion euro plan. However, the law could come into force without their consent.

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The commission’s chairman, former head of the SPD Matthias Platzeck, said that: “This result means that German society can survive.” Another member, Ole von Beust (CDU), lauded the fact that the commission, which was comprised of party members, business leaders and trade union heads, came to a unanimous decision.

Its final proposal, specifically, recommended that each of the energy companies pay €4.7 billion into a state fund that would be used to finance interim storage of dangerous materials, construction of a final repository and all transport costs.

It also concluded that €12.4 billion should be paid to select, construct, operate and ultimately decommission the necessary waste repositories.

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The part of their proposal proving to be most divisive is the payment of a “risk premium”, which would be set at around 35% of costs. It remains unclear at this stage how the total amount suggested by the commission will be shared out among the energy companies, which differ is size and energy producing capacity.

Another significant aspect of the proposal is that the commission recommended that the phase-out be started as soon as possible.

Von Beust called upon Eon, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall to support the solution. However, a Vattenfall representative said that the risk premium would be “disproportionate to the economic strength of the affected utilities” and the companies have called for the discussion to be revisited. In contrast to the energy companies, the Federation of German Industries (BDI) appeared happy with the committee’s proposal.

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Hubert Weiger, the chairman of German NGO BUND, criticised the “enormous financial risk being put on the taxpayer”. Minister for the Environment Barbara Hendricks (SPD), a supporter of the polluter pays principle, emphasised that the companies in question would “not be let off the hook” in dealing with their legacy of atomic energy and the huge inevitable costs that will be incurred.


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