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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

German legal case sets precedent for limiting the greed of nuclear and coal companies

 justiceflag_germanyLimiting the greed of the nuclear industry http://www.dw.com/en/opinion-limiting-the-greed-of-the-nuclear-industry/a-36664176 The German Constitutional Court’s decision that an accelerated nuclear phase-out is legal, and limiting compensation for energy companies is good news, says DW’s Gero Reuter. This could even set a precedent for coal.

“Property entails obligations. Its use shall also serve the public good,” states article 14 of the German constitution. At the same time, the German constitution demands that expropriation is permissible for the public good, and will be compensated after balancing the interests of everyone affected.

That’s the most crucial background to Germany’s biggest power companies – Eon, RWE and Swedish state-owned company Vattenfall – having filed lawsuits against the German government. They asked for compensation for the government’s decision in 2011 to hurry through shutdown of nuclear reactors in the wake of the 2011 nuclear meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima reactor.

According to the energy companies, the nuclear phase-out is an unconstitutional expropriation of their power plants and possible energy production. They had asked for compensation of around 19 billion euros ($20 billion), which was supposed to be shelled out by taxpayers – around 230 euros from each citizen, babies to pensioners.

This week, Germany’s Constitutional Court mostly rejected their claims, saying the law for a nuclear phase-out from 2011 “is mostly compatible with Germany’s constitution.”

Only long-term investments that the power companies made between December 2010 and March 2011 are eligible for compensation, the court ruled, as the German government agreed to a maximum lifetime extension of nuclear power plants for 12 years in 2010.

What’s more, Germany’s Constitutional Court said some of the power companies received unequal treatment, and thus ruled that the German government has to adjust the law accordingly by June 2018.

Good news for taxpayers and the environment

The ruling is good news for taxpayers and the environment, as it will limit the greed of power companies to tap even more subsidies at the expense of public health, the environment and government budgets.

As to the requested compensation costs of around 19 billion euros – fortunately there’s not much left to this argument. It’s possible that the German government won’t have to pay anything to the energy companies at all. If worse comes to worse, it may pay a billion euros. This all depends on how the state will define unequal treatment of the different energy companies over the months to come.

What’s even more positive and groundbreaking is the legal reasoning behind the ruling. Germany’s Constitutional Court stressed several times that it attaches great importance to the protection of life, health and natural resources, and to the minimization of risks through the use of nuclear energy. It also said this could lead to an even faster nuclear phase-out, and that the German government could change its laws after the fact.

Thinking into the future, this decision could set a precedent for legal support to Germany being on the necessary path to withdraw from coal-powered electricity, and to shorten the long-term operating licenses power companies retain for mining lignite (brown coal).

The energy companies should carefully study this decision, and read between the lines to see how the German constitution truly works. “Property entails obligations. Its use shall also serve the public good.”

And if companies don’t use their property for the public good, then the state can expropriate this under certain circumstances. Obviously, the state then has to pay an appropriate compensation fee after balancing the interests of everyone involved – that’s fair.

But it should pay only what’s fair and not a cent more – especially not for big, powerful energy companies.

December 9, 2016 Posted by | Germany, Legal | Leave a comment

German court ruling means only limited scope for utilities to claim compensation

legal costsflag_germanyE.ON sees limited scope for nuclear claims after ruling -Bernstein, Reuters, Dec 8 E.ON sees limited scope for compensation claims following a court ruling related to Germany’s nuclear exit that paves the way for utilities to try to reclaim money, its chief executive told brokerage Bernstein in an interview.

Germany’s highest court on Tuesday ruled that hastening the shutdown of nuclear plants after Japan’s Fukushima disaster violated some of the property rights of utility companies, allowing them to seek limited damages.

It said that utilities could claim back stranded investments made between December 2010 and March 2011 when the government decided to extend the life of nuclear plants. In 2011, the government’s position changed and it decided to shut down all stations by 2022.

E.ON said earlier this week it had invested several hundred million euros in 2010 in the expectation that the government’s nuclear policy would remain unchanged.

“Of this, a low triple digit million amount was likely incurred in the four month period between December 2010 and March 2011, which should be eligible for compensation,” Bernstein quoted CEO Johannes Teyssen as saying.

Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks said this week the court ruling meant demands by utilities for billions of euros in compensation was off the table……http://www.reuters.com/article/germany-nuclear-e-on-idUSL5N1E31FC

December 9, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Germany, Legal, politics | Leave a comment

German nuclear compensation court case a precedent for limiting the greed of the nuclear industry

legal action Limiting the greed of the nuclear industry http://www.dw.com/en/opinion-limiting-the-greed-of-the-nuclear-industry/a-36664176 The German Constitutional Court’s decision that an accelerated nuclear phase-out is legal, and limiting compensation for energy companies is good news, says DW’s Gero Reuter. This could even set a precedent for coal.

“Property entails obligations. Its use shall also serve the public good,” states article 14 of the German constitution. At the same time, the German constitution demands that expropriation is permissible for the public good, and will be compensated after balancing the interests of everyone affected.

That’s the most crucial background to Germany’s biggest power companies – Eon, RWE and Swedish state-owned company Vattenfall – having filed lawsuits against the German government. They asked for compensation for the government’s decision in 2011 to hurry through shutdown of nuclear reactors in the wake of the 2011 nuclear meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima reactor.

According to the energy companies, the nuclear phase-out is an unconstitutional expropriation of their power plants and possible energy production. They had asked for compensation of around 19 billion euros ($20 billion), which was supposed to be shelled out by taxpayers – around 230 euros from each citizen, babies to pensioners.

This week, Germany’s Constitutional Court mostly rejected their claims, saying the law for a nuclear phase-out from 2011 “is mostly compatible with Germany’s constitution.”

Only long-term investments that the power companies made between December 2010 and March 2011 are eligible for compensation, the court ruled, as the German government agreed to a maximum lifetime extension of nuclear power plants for 12 years in 2010.

What’s more, Germany’s Constitutional Court said some of the power companies received unequal treatment, and thus ruled that the German government has to adjust the law accordingly by June 2018.

Good news for taxpayers and the environment

The ruling is good news for taxpayers and the environment, as it will limit the greed of power companies to tap even more subsidies at the expense of public health, the environment and government budgets.

As to the requested compensation costs of around 19 billion euros – fortunately there’s not much left to this argument. It’s possible that the German government won’t have to pay anything to the energy companies at all. If worse comes to worse, it may pay a billion euros. This all depends on how the state will define unequal treatment of the different energy companies over the months to come.

What’s even more positive and groundbreaking is the legal reasoning behind the ruling. Germany’s Constitutional Court stressed several times that it attaches great importance to the protection of life, health and natural resources, and to the minimization of risks through the use of nuclear energy. It also said this could lead to an even faster nuclear phase-out, and that the German government could change its laws after the fact.

Thinking into the future, this decision could set a precedent for legal support to Germany being on the necessary path to withdraw from coal-powered electricity, and to shorten the long-term operating licenses power companies retain for mining lignite (brown coal).

The energy companies should carefully study this decision, and read between the lines to see how the German constitution truly works. “Property entails obligations. Its use shall also serve the public good.”

And if companies don’t use their property for the public good, then the state can expropriate this under certain circumstances. Obviously, the state then has to pay an appropriate compensation fee after balancing the interests of everyone involved – that’s fair.

But it should pay only what’s fair and not a cent more – especially not for big, powerful energy companies.

December 7, 2016 Posted by | Germany, Legal, Reference | Leave a comment

German court orders compensation for nuclear operators following nation’s exit from nuclear power

justiceGerman nuclear operators to get compensation for nuclear exit: court http://www.platts.com/latest-news/electric-power/london/german-nuclear-operators-to-get-compensation-26613982 London (Platts)–6 Dec 2016

* German supreme court says some rights violated by nuclear exit

* But confirms general constitutionality of exit law
* Government needs to set compensation framework by June 2018

Germany’s supreme court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) on Tuesday confirmed that the nuclear exit law from July 2011, although generally conforming with the German constitution, in part violates the property rights of nuclear operators.

Nuclear operators E.ON, RWE and Vattenfall brought the lawsuit after the government decided in 2011 to reverse its planned extension of nuclear runtimes in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, replacing remaining production quotas with a set deadline for the closure of reactors and a complete phase out of nuclear power by the end of 2022.

The court in Karlsruhe declared that the government needs to put in place “appropriate” compensation for investment based on the initial plan to extend runtimes by around 12 years after the 2009 elections.

The new compensation rules need to be in place by June 30, 2018, the court said in a statement

It did not give any guidance on the compensation sum.

According to a report by German news agency dpa, the operators so far have not quantified their compensation demands, speaking only of “massive economic damage” with dpa quoting estimates of around Eur19 billion.

In October, the government cleared the way for a financial solution to the nuclear storage issues with new rules under which the nuclear operators will pay a combined Eur23.5 billion into a state-run fund for the financing of mid- and long-term nuclear storage in Germany.

In return, the nuclear operators will be released from liability for interim and final storage of nuclear waste, but remain solely responsible for the decommissioning of nuclear power plants as well as the transport of the nuclear waste to the storage repository.

–Andreas Franke, andreas.franke@spglobal.com
–Edited by Alisdair Bowles, alisdair.bowles@spglobal.com

December 7, 2016 Posted by | Germany, Legal, Reference | Leave a comment

Legal ruling to come, on Germany’s nuclear exit

legal actionflag_germanyPreview: Legal or not? German utilities await landmark nuclear exit ruling http://in.reuters.com/article/germany-utilities-nuclear-idINKBN13Q4QD By Christoph Steitz and Tom Käckenhoff | FRANKFURT/DUESSELDORF, 1 Dec 16, 

Germany’s highest court will rule next week on whether the country’s decision to exit nuclear power was legal, helping to determine whether or not three power firms can pursue damage claims of up to 19 billion euros ($20.16 billion).
German utilities are still reeling from the decision made in 2011 after Japan’s Fukushima disaster to shut down all nuclear power plants by 2022. E.ON, RWE and Vattenfall have sued the government over what they say amounts to expropriation.

The three claim the accelerated shutdown robbed them of 1,800 terawatt hours of future production, enough to power Europe’s biggest economy for about three years.The German government has rejected the claims, arguing its decision was in line with constitutional law.

The Constitutional Court will give its verdict on Tuesday, Dec. 6, in the city of Karlsruhe.

“Even if the verdict is partly in favour of utilities, there will be a separate lengthy process for determining the compensation. So it’s not really a bankable outcome,” said Deepa Venkateswaran, senior analyst at Bernstein.

In a two-day hearing in March, the court challenged the expropriation claims brought by power firms, arguing that Germany merely accelerated the shutdown of nuclear plants that was initially agreed on in 2002.

The ruling requires a majority of the eight-judge panel. If the judges are split evenly, the complaints will automatically be rejected.

Legal experts expect the court will throw out the complaint by Sweden’s Vattenfall because it is a state-owned entity, preventing it from lodging a complaint based on Germany’s constitution.

German utility EnBW, which is almost entirely owned by the public, has not lodged a complaint for that reason. According to Peter Rosin, partner and energy specialist at law firm White & Case, the court would not necessarily have to approve the utilities’ expropriation complaint to pave the way for damage claims.

It could also rule that Germany’s decision did not amount to expropriation but merely defined the scope and limitation of property in such a significant way that it required compensation, he said

The court could also throw out all complaints.

“Therefore, there is a range of possibilities regarding the court’s decision and the respective legal consequences. The outcome is open,” Rosin said.

($1 = 0.9427 euros)

(Additional reporting by Ursula Knapp in Karlsruhe)

December 2, 2016 Posted by | Germany, Legal | Leave a comment

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will co-operate with President Trump – UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Issues CHILLING Warning To Donald Trump,   BiPartisan Report , By Sarah MacManus –

German Chancellor Angela Merkel reacts to Donald Trump as elected President (english subtitles)

 
It could mean the cooperation of our European allies, as well. Merkel also serves as the de facto leader of the European Union, and was listed by Forbes as one of the world’s second most powerful individuals in the last five years.
Donald Trump would do well to heed her warning.

Trump took a swing at Merkel during his campaign over her refugee policy, criticizing her willingness to accept refugees and immigrants into Germany and stating: “What Merkel did to Germany is a shame, it’s a sad, sad shame.”

Merkel’s even-handed statement of congratulations to the Republican was composed with the utmost precise wording and couched in tones of warning……..

“Please accept my congratulations on your election as President of the United States of America.

“You will assume office at a time in which our countries are jointly facing many different challenges.

“Germany’s ties with the United States of America are deeper than with any country outside of the European Union. Germany and America are bound by common values — democracy, freedom, as well as respect for the rule of law and the dignity of each and every person, regardless of their origin, skin color, creed, gender, sexual orientation, or political views. It is based on these values that I wish to offer close cooperation, both with me personally and between our countries’ governments.

“Partnership with the United States is and will remain a keystone of German foreign policy, especially so that we can tackle the great challenges of our time: striving for economic and social well-being, working to develop far-sighted climate policy, pursuing the fight against terrorism, poverty, hunger, and disease, as well as protecting peace and freedom in the world.

“In the years ahead as president, I wish you a sure hand, every success, and God’s blessing.”  http://bipartisanreport.com/2016/11/09/just-in-german-chancellor-angela-merkel-issues-chilling-warning-to-donald-trump/

November 12, 2016 Posted by | Germany, politics international, USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

German cabinet approves landmark nuclear waste deal with utilities

Germany approves landmark nuclear waste deal with utilities: source  http://www.businessinsider.com/r-germany-approves-landmark-nuclear-waste-deal-with-utilities-source-2016-10/?r=AU&IR=T  BERLIN (Reuters) – The German cabinet approved a deal on Wednesday for its top utilities to start paying into a 23.6-billion-euro ($25.9 billion) fund next year in return for shifting liability for nuclear waste storage to the government, a source said.

The agreement removes uncertainty about the costs of storing interim and final waste and gives investors greater clarity over the future finances of E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall [VATN.UL].

The utilities will remain responsible for dismantling the country’s nuclear plants, the last of which will be shut down in 2022 as part of Germany’s abandonment of the technology, a decision triggered by Japan’s Fukushima disaster five years ago.

(Reporting by Markus Wacket; Writing by Caroline Copley; Editing by Joseph Nasr)

Read the original article on Reuters.

October 22, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Germany, politics | Leave a comment

Germany’s leading utilities to start contributing to nuclear waste storage fund

German power firms to shift funds in landmark nuclear deal , Reuters 14 Oct 16 

* Bill of 23.6 billion euros for waste storage – draft law

* Utilities can pay in instalments to 2026

* First payment must be 20 pct of total sum

* Shares in E.ON, RWE, EnBW rise on clarity (Recasts, adds funding breakup, details)

By Markus Wacket BERLIN, Germany’s leading utilities will start contributing next year to a 23.6 billion euro ($26.4 billion) fund as a condition for shifting liability for nuclear waste storage to the government, giving investors greater clarity over their future finances.

The new legislation, seen by Reuters on Friday, will remove uncertainty about the costs of storing waste — the most complex and costly aspect of nuclear decommissioning — which has been a major drag on German utility stocks.

The utilities will remain responsible for dismantling the country’s nuclear plants, the last of which will be shut down in 2022 as part of Germany’s abandonment of the technology, a decision triggered by Japan’s Fukushima disaster five years ago.

The German cabinet is set to approve the law on Oct. 19, bringing to an end lengthy negotiations between Berlin and the country’s four major energy groups — E.ON, RWE , EnBW and Vattenfall — on a waste storage deal proposed in April.

With a combined liability of about 16.7 billion euros, E.ON and RWE will have to stump up most of the funds. E.ON has said it might carry out a share sale to raise about 2 billion euros to help achieve this……..

The utilities had been pushing to get favourable terms from the government, arguing they have been hammered by plunging power prices, a shift towards renewable energy and Germany’s nuclear exit, which has taken its toll on their finances…….http://www.reuters.com/article/germany-nuclear-waste-idUSL8N1CK1X4

October 15, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Germany, politics | Leave a comment

Germany’s green power going strong, with more renewable energy than it ever had nuclear

In short, Germany is paying coal to shut down, ramping up renewables far faster than nuclear shrinks, and enjoying unparalleled power reliability—while New York fails to move with solar and wind, pays nuclear to stay on, and has as much downtime a month as Germany has in a year.

logo-EnergiewendeGermany already has more green power than it ever had nuclear, Energy Transition 24 Aug 2016   by   “….. Craig Morris takes a look at the data……In Germany, however, solar and wind are reducing the wholesale prices that baseload nuclear and coal sell at—because green power is growing fast. In 2002, the country adopted a plan to phase out nuclear by around 2022 (this is still the target). Most onlookers thought it would be impossible to ever offset nuclear power with renewables in such a short time. In fact, Germany hit that target last year—seven years early.

What about the charge of a “large increase” in coal? To account for Chancellor Merkel’s sudden phaseout in 2011, we could compare the figures from 2010 to 2015 (see chart on original) ). We then see a rise of less than one percent in power from hard coal and around six percent for lignite. Judge for yourself whether this is a “large increase,” and keep in mind that power from both hard coal and lignite were down further in the first half of 2016 by 1.9 and 1.6 percent, respectively (PDF in German)—in a year when the German population grew by more than one percent because of refugees. Also keep in mind that net power exports (orange line), which reached a record high last year at nearly 10 percent of total power supply, increase demand for non-renewable electricity because renewable power has priority dispatch. To quote German utility umbrella group BDEW (not a pro-renewables organization), foreign demand for German power increases domestic generation from fossil fuels. Throw in the other fossil fuel, natural gas, and you have an overall decrease—so much that fossil fuel consumption in the power sector reached a 35-year low in 2014 (even with rising exports)…….
where do the claims of rising German carbon emissions come from? There were minor upticks in 2012 and 2013 (an argument that reminds me of the famous face-palm graphicfor global warming). And though we don’t have the CO2 numbers yet, energy consumption rose overall in 2015 and the first half of 2016—due, as the official explanation reads, to colder weather, economic growth, and the sudden population growth from refugees. Essentially, the pro-nuclear camp mistakenly attributes a rise in emissions from oil and gas for heat supply to coal consumption in the power sector (which is flat to down).
In their attempt to promote nuclear, some New Yorkers thus overemphasize the role of coal in Germany and exaggerate the limits of wind and solar. For instance, the New York Times recently claimed that the German government “will pay billions to keep coal generators in reserve, to provide emergency power at times when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine.” In reality, these plants will have 11 days to ramp up. No weather forecast extends that long, and no power shortage announces itself that far in advance. Experts doubt this lignite reserve will be used at all. It is a political compromise: to meet the 2020 carbon targets, Berlin has paid coal firms to shut down old coal plants. The payoff for a shutdown is called a “reserve” to make it more palatable to the public.

“Unless we’re willing to go back to candles, which would be uncomfortable and inconvenient, we need energy generation,” New York’s Governer Cuomo said in explaining the nuclear bailout. In doing so, he unwittingly reiterated the long-disproven claim by German nuclear proponents that the lights would go out without nuclear. Like the rest of the US, New York State counts downtime (SAIDI) in hours (PDF), with New York coming in at around two hours of power outages annually—or just over 10 minutes a month. Germany had 12 minutes a year in 2014.

In short, Germany is paying coal to shut down, ramping up renewables far faster than nuclear shrinks, and enjoying unparalleled power reliability—while New York fails to move with solar and wind, pays nuclear to stay on, and has as much downtime a month as Germany has in a year.

Craig Morris (@PPchef) is the lead author of German Energy Transition. He directs Petite Planète and writes every workday for Renewables International. He is co-author of Energy Democracy, the first history of Germany’s Energiewende.   http://energytransition.de/2016/08/germany-already-has-more-green-power-than-it-ever-had-nuclear/

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Germany, renewable | Leave a comment

Garmany’s solar PIMBY town – ‘Please In My Backyard’

Solar power is set to capture almost all the investment in new generation. Justin McManusFrom swords to solar, a German town takes control of its energy, National Observer, By Audrea Lim in NewsEnergy | July 28th 2016 The German town of Saerbeck is a swords to solar panels story. Above this former German military ammunition camp, perched atop a metal stem like an oversized stalk of wheat, giant blades rotate in the sky, given life by an invisible breeze.

 The wind turbine could be the icon for the Saerbeck “Climate Community,” a champion of energy democracy that was twice awarded the European Energy Award, and received the German Sustainability Prize in 2013. This town of 7,200, in the industrial heartland of Germany, is a thriving example of the nation’s much-lauded transition toward renewable energy. The energiewendeincludes a total phase-out of nuclear power by 2022 , and has catalyzed a tenfold increase in the share of clean electricity since 1990. By 2015, 32.5 per cent of Germany’s electricity was renewable.

In 2009, Saerbeck decided to shift its electricity entirely to renewable sources by 2030. Within just five years, they were generating 3.5 times more renewable electricity than the town consumed, not only with the installation of solar panels on private roofs, but through a 90-hectare, 70-million-euro Bioenergy Park that now houses seven wind turbines, a biogas plant, and a sprawling array of solar panels on the roofs of former military bunkers.

These camouflaged bunkers look like charming rows of grass-hatted hobbit holes, but were built to house tank ammunition and grenades. Today they provide the physical foundation for achieving local energy security and self-sufficiency—since 2012, Saerbeck’s entire electric grid has been owned by the community—as well as a canvas for the psychedelic shadowplay cast by the rotating turbine blades.

The key to Saerbeck’s success, explained Mayor Wilfried Roos, is the grassroots nature of these projects, which were conceptualized at weekly community meetings, and have brought in revenue for the town and local investors, as excess energy is sold back into the grid……..

A bunch of PIMBYs (Please, in my backyard)

At the center of the town’s transformation is the local energy cooperative Energy for Saerbeck, co-founded by Roos, which owns the solar plant and a turbine in the Bioenergy Park. By investing in the cooperative (the minimum amount is 1,000 EUR), local townspeople become voting members and earn profits. Since its founding in 2009, the cooperative’s membership has expanded from an original nine members to 384 today. More residents are eager to join—if only the coop could keep pace with enough new projects.

Wallraven credits the opportunity to invest and participate for the townspeople’s embrace of the transition, which some scholars describe with the cringe-worthy acronym “PIMBY”—“Please, In My Backyard”—or, in corporate jargon, as the achievement of “social acceptance.” “The cooperative has been a very important strategic instrument to get the people on board,” said Wallraven………

In Germany, the energiewende has largely been fueled by small and mid-sized investors. Citizen participation accounted for 46 per cent of the nation’s renewable energy capacity in 2012, and there were 973 electricity cooperatives running by 2015.

 For decades, the German electricity market had been dominated by a monopoly of a few big utility companies, but their breakup after 1998 created space for new electricity producers to emerge. When they did, they arrived in the form of citizens, small businesses and local investors, encouraged by laws guaranteeing their right to sell electricity back into the grid for twenty years at a fixed price—what’s known as a “feed-in tariff.” This provision, which offered security and healthy returns in a nascent and still-uncertain industry, has been crucial for the energiewende, according to most experts……..http://www.nationalobserver.com/2016/07/28/news/swords-solar-german-town-takes-control-its-energy

August 1, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment | Edit

August 1, 2016 Posted by | decentralised, Germany | Leave a comment

Germany an example to the world of the massive radioactive waste costs of the nuclear industry

Sticker Shock: The Soaring Costs Of Germany’s Nuclear Shutdown, Yale Environment 360 25 JUL 2016: REPORT  German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2011 decision to rapidly phase out the country’s 17 nuclear power reactors has left the government and utilities with a massive problem: How to clean up and store large amounts of nuclear waste and other radioactive material. by joel stonington 26 july 16  The cavern of the salt mine is 2,159 feet beneath the surface of central Germany. Stepping out of a dust-covered Jeep on an underground road, we enter the grotto and are met by the sound of running water — a steady flow that adds up to 3,302 gallons per day.

wastes-1

“This is the biggest problem,” Ina Stelljes, spokesperson for the Federal Office for Radiation Protection, tells me, gesturing to a massive tank in the middle of the room where water waits to be pumped to the surface.

The leaking water wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for the 125,000 barrels of low- and medium-level nuclear waste stored a few hundred feet below. Most of the material originated from 14 nuclear power plants, and the German government secretly moved it to the mine from 1967 until 1978. For now, the water leaking into the mine is believed to be contained, although it remains unclear if water has seeped into areas with waste and rusted the barrels inside.

The mine — Asse II — has become a touchstone in the debate about nuclear waste in the wake of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2011 decision to end the use of nuclear power following Japan’s Fukushima disaster. The ongoing closures have created a new urgency to clean up these nuclear facilities and, most importantly, to find a way to safely store the additional radioactive waste from newly decommissioned nuclear reactors. Nine of the country’s 17 nuclear power reactors have been shut down and all are expected to be phased out by 2022.

In addition to Asse II, two other major lower-level nuclear waste sites exist in Germany, and a third has been approved. But the costs associated with nuclear waste sites are proving to be more expensive, controversial, and complex than originally expected.

And Germany still hasn’t figured out what to do with the high-level waste — mostly spent fuel rods — that is now in a dozen interim storage areas comprised of specialized warehouses near nuclear power plants. Any future waste repository will have to contain the radiation from spent uranium fuel for up to a million years.

Given the time frames involved, it’s not surprising that no country has built a final repository for high-level waste. In Germany, a government commission on highly radioactive nuclear waste spent the last two years working on a 700-page report, released this month, that was supposed to recommend a location. Instead, the report estimated that Germany’s final storage facility would be ready “in the next century.” Costs are expected to be astronomical.

“Nobody can say how much it will cost to store high-level waste. What we know is that it will be very costly – much higher costs can be expected than [what] the German ministry calculates,” said Claudia Kemfert, head of energy, transportation, and environment at the German Institute for Economic Research. The exact number, she said, “cannot be predicted, since experience shows that costs have always been higher than initially expected. ”

At the Asse II mine, roughly $680 million has been spent in the six years since the cleanup began, and the price tag for operations last year totaled $216 million. A 2015 report by Germany’s Environment Ministry noted, “There are currently no technical plans available for the envisaged waste recovery project which would allow a reliable estimate of the costs.”

No one expects to start moving the barrels at the mine until 2033, and estimates of finishing the process extend to 2065. Total costs for moving the waste to a future storage site will almost certainly be in the billions of dollars, with current estimates of just disposing of the recovered waste at $5.5 billion.

The waste issue is one reason nuclear power has been so controversial in Germany and why there is broad support among the public for phasing it out, with three-quarters of the German population saying they are in favor of Merkel’s decision, according to a survey this year by the Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster.

“Nuclear in Germany is not popular,” Kemfert said. “Everybody knows it is dangerous and causes a lot of environmental difficulties. Nuclear has been replaced by renewables – we have no need for nuclear power any more.”…………..

With both nuclear waste storage and decommissioning, governments and power companies around the world have often opted for halfway solutions, storing waste in temporary depots and partially decommissioning plants. Worldwide, 447 operational nuclear reactors exist and an additional 157 are in various stages of decommissioning. Just 17 have been fully decommissioned.

In Europe, a recent report by the European Union Commission estimated that funds set aside for waste storage and decommissioning of nuclear plants in the EU’s 16 nuclear nations have fallen short by $137 billion. Dealing with nuclear waste in the United Kingdom is also a highly charged issue. At one location — a former weapons-manufacturing, fuel-reprocessing, and decommissioning site called Sellafield — the expected cleanup cost increased from $59 billion in 2005 to $155 billion in 2015. ……

despite recently completing a new plant, the United States is also struggling with decommissioning. The cost estimates of shuttering U.S. nuclear plants increased fourfold between 1988 and 2013, according toBloomberg News. Many governments are slowly starting to realize how much those costs have been underestimated.

As Antony Froggatt, a nuclear expert and researcher at Chatham House — a London-based think tank— put it, “The question is, how do you create a fair cost to cover what will happen far into the future?”  http://e360.yale.edu/feature/soaring_cost_german_nuclear_shutdown/3019/

July 28, 2016 Posted by | Germany, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

German situation shows the complex problem of who pays for nuclear wastes disposal

scrutiny-on-costsSticker Shock: The Soaring Costs Of Germany’s Nuclear Shutdown, Yale Environment 360 25 JUL 2016: REPORT “…….In Germany, negotiations with utilities over who will pay the denuclearization costs have often centered on how much the utilities can afford. The four nuclear utilities in Germany – publicly-traded RWE; E.ON; EnBW, which is majority publicly-owned; and Swedish-owned Vattenfall – are struggling economically as decentralized wind and solar power have undercut wholesale electricity prices and eaten into profits. Last year, E.ON, Germany’s largest utility, lost $7.7 billion.

The four companies have already set aside $45 billion for decommissioning nuclear power plants. But in April, Germany’s Commission to Review the Financing for the Phase-Out of Nuclear Energy recommended that the utilities pay an additional $26.4 billion into a government-controlled fund meant to cover the costs of long-term storage of nuclear waste.

The utilities were unhappy with the commission’s conclusions and released a joint statement saying $26.4 billion would “overburden energy companies’ economic capabilities.” Even so, few experts expect those sums to cover the total eventual costs.

“Some billions now are better than making them bankrupt,” said Michael Mueller, who chairs a government commission on highly radioactive nuclear waste. “So, it’s a compromise that had to be made.”

The utilities are clear about where they see the responsibility: “The temporary and final storage of nuclear waste in Germany is an operative task of the German government, which is politically responsible for this,” the utilities said in a statement. Indeed, if the commission’s recommendation becomes law, then the German government will be on the hook for any storage costs beyond the $26.4 billion paid by the utilities.

“Asse II shows us that radioactive waste storage is a complex problem that is not just about dumping it somewhere,” said Jan Haverkamp, a nuclear energy expert at Greenpeace. “There are many open questions, and those questions are going to lead to a lot more costs………” http://e360.yale.edu/feature/soaring_cost_german_nuclear_shutdown/3019/

July 28, 2016 Posted by | Germany, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Germany still struggling with legacy of old nuclear wastes

Sticker Shock: The Soaring Costs Of Germany’s Nuclear Shutdown, Yale Environment 360 25 JUL 2016: REPORT“……….Radioactive water was first detected leaking at Asse II in 2008, and the German Bundestag passed a law five years later that mandated removal of the waste. Above ground, the complex is just a few fenced-in buildings amid forests and farms. Underground, passageways have closed or collapsed. One main elevator shaft going down into the mine can be used for transporting large machinery, such as front loaders, some of which has to be welded together in underground workshops. As for the areas with actual waste, workers have spent years drilling into just one of 13 chambers to test for gas and radioactivity.

“No one goes in,” said Stelljes. “We haven’t even developed the machines we would need for moving the waste.”

Asse was intended as a secret stopgap solution when West Germany first starting shipping nuclear waste there in 1967. The problem is, no one seems to have come up with anything better since. Germany still doesn’t have a permanent nuclear waste storage facility. One other underground site, Morsleben — a salt mine used as a nuclear dump by the former East German government — is slated for a cleanup expected to cost at least $1.6 billion.

wastes-Gorleben-salt-mine

A former iron mine, Konrad, is being converted into a site to store low- and medium-level waste; it is expected to be completed in 2022. Low- and medium-level waste account for 90 percent of Germany’s total nuclear waste, but just 0.1 percent of the total radioactivity of the nation’s waste.

The most dangerous and controversial waste is heavy-metal-laden, heat-producing waste from spent fuel rods. Germany expects the total of that high-level waste to take up 28,100 cubic meters (1 million cubic feet) — a fraction of the volume of low- and medium-level waste the country must eventually store. Preliminary plans from Germany’s Federal Office for Radiation Protection call for a high-level waste repository to be built by 2050, with storage complete by 2130, and final sealing of the repository as late as 2170.

“No one has a finished concept [for storage of high-level waste], so no one can give us a finished budget,” Haverkamp said. “I won’t give an estimate anymore, but the numbers are in the billions. How many? No one knows. That’s the problem in Germany, you have to reserve a certain amount of money, but how much?” ….   http://e360.yale.edu/feature/soaring_cost_german_nuclear_shutdown/3019/

July 28, 2016 Posted by | Germany, wastes | Leave a comment

UK and Germany of backtracking on the spirit of the Paris climate deal, funding fossil fuels

hypocrisy-scaleflag-UKflag_germanyUN criticises UK and Germany for betraying Paris climate deal
Climate change envoy singles out both countries for subsidising the fossil fuel industry and says the UK has lost its position as a climate leader,
Guardian, , 18 July 16, Ban Ki-moon’s climate change envoy has accused the UK and Germany of backtracking on the spirit of the Paris climate deal by financing the fossil fuel industry through subsidies.

Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and UN special envoy on climate change and El Niño, said she had to speak out after Germany promised compensation for coal power and the UK provided tax breaks for oil and gas.

Governments in Paris last year not only pledged to phase out fossil fuels in the long term but to make flows of finance consistent with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

“They’ve [the British government] introduced new tax breaks for oil and gas in 2015 that will cost the UK taxpayer billions between 2015 and 2020, and at the same time they’ve cut support for renewables and for energy efficiency,” she told the Guardian…..

The criticism comes as Theresa May’s government has come under fire at home and abroad for its leadership on climate change after it abolished the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Senior figures such as the outgoing UN climate change chief have urged the UK not to abandon its climate commitments as it leaves the EU. “Let us remember that the Brexit vote was not about climate change,” said Christiana Figueres.

Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green party, said: “This damning indictment of the UK’s energy policy comes just days after our new prime minister scrapped the Department of Energy and Climate Change and appointed an environment secretary who has consistently voted against measures to tackle climate change.

“I urge Theresa May to listen carefully to Robinson’s remarks and start reversing the damaging policies put in place by her predecessor – like giving tax breaks to fossil fuel companies while cutting subsidies for renewables.”

Robinson said that while Germany had made some positive steps such as aiding developing countries on climate change, it was sending mixed messages.

Germany says its on track to end coal subsidies by 2018 but the German government is also introducing new mechanisms that provide payment to power companies for their ability to provide a constant supply of electricity, even if they are polluting forms, such as diesel and coal,” she said. She called on Germany to make a real commitment to get out of coal.

But she said her criticism was far from limited to the two countries. “We want all countries to end [fossil fuel] subsidies,” she said…..

The likely US Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, has said he would try to unpick the deal, but Robinson said if it was ratified by the US this year “unwinding it would be very prolonged and difficult. I sincerely hope we won’t be facing that problem.”

However Hillary Clinton would be good on climate because she had been pushed by Bernie Sanders to adopt an ambitious climate change platform, she said.

Robinson said she been to Ethiopia recently and seen firsthand the way manmade climate change was exacerbating natural climate phenomenons such as El Niño, which brings drought to some parts of the world, and flooding to others. “I saw so many malnourished children, and it’s not tolerable.”…….https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/18/un-criticises-uk-and-german-for-betraying-the-spirit-of-the-paris-climate-deal

July 20, 2016 Posted by | climate change, Germany, UK | Leave a comment

Court reject nuclear company EOn’s claim for compensation

judge-1flag_germanyCourt rejects EOn’s compensation claim, World Nuclear News, 5 July 16  A regional court in Hannover has ruled that EOn is not entitled to €382 million ($426 million) in compensation it sought for the forced shut down of its Isar 1 and Unterweser nuclear power units in 2011……The court’s ruling echoes that of a decision in April by a regional court in Bonn to throw out a similar compensation claim by EnBW for the shutdown of its Neckarwestheim 1 and Phillipsburg 1 units in the state of Baden-Würtemberg. That court ruled the utility, which also filed its lawsuit in 2014, had not used immediately “all legal means available” to avert the consequences of the forced shut down of its nuclear power units.

EnBW had sought compensation of €261 million, citing German court decisions in 2013 and 2014 in favour of rival utility RWE, which had sued for damages of €235 million against the forced closure of its Biblis reactor immediately after the moratorium.http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/C-Court-rejects-EOns-compensation-claim-0507164.html

July 9, 2016 Posted by | Germany, Legal | Leave a comment