The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

European Commission approves Germany’s plan for funding radioactive waste management

Reuters 16th June 2017, The European Commission said on Friday it had approved Germany’s plan to
create a public fund to deal with radioactive waste. Germany intends to
take over the liabilities relating to management of radioactive waste and
spent fuel from nuclear power plant operators.

They would have to pay in about 24.1 billion euros ($26.9 billion). This is made up of a basic amount
equivalent to the provisions already set aside by the operators for this
purpose and a risk premium aimed at covering the risk of cost increases in
the future.

The Commission concluded that the move did involve state aid
because of uncertainties over the cost of a repository for waste and the
possibility of cost overruns. Germany regards the measure as necessary as
it seeks to phase out nuclear energy production by 2022.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Germany, Legal | Leave a comment

German Chancellor Merkel says budget not affected by court ruling to refund nuclear taxes

Budget targets not affected by German nuclear tax ruling – Merkel,, 8 June 17  Germany’s broad budgetary goals are not endangered by a court’s finding that a tax on nuclear fuel rods is illegal, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday.

The Constitutional Court had earlier found that the 145 euro/gram tax on reactor refueling was illegal, obliging the government to pay a 6 billion euro ($6.8 billion) refund to the utilities EON, RWE and EnBW.

“The finance minister will assess the ruling and implement it, but first we should wait for that assessment and then Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble will make his proposals,” Merkel said. “I don’t think our main targets will be at risk.”    (Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Madeline Chambers)

June 10, 2017 Posted by | Germany, Legal, politics | Leave a comment

German court ruling rejects Germany’s nuclear fuel tax – very disappointing to Environment Minister

German minister says court’s nuclear tax ruling is very irritating,, 8  June 17

German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said on Wednesday that a court ruling that declared Germany’s nuclear fuel tax illegal was a “colossal irritation”.

The ruling from the Constitutional Court raised the prospect of a 6 billion euro ($6.8 billion) refund to utilities at a time of strained balance sheets.

Hendricks, a member of the Social Democrats (SPD) – the junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition – said the 2009-2013 government, which was made up of Merkel’s conservatives and the Free Democrats (FDP), had caused “chaos” in nuclear policy.

“The fact that this bodge (of the previous government) is paying out for the nuclear power companies years later makes the Constitutional Court’s ruling a colossal irritation,” Hendricks said.

(Reporting by Markus Wacket; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Madeline Chambers)

June 10, 2017 Posted by | Germany, Legal | Leave a comment

German energy groups turn to lucrative business of decommissioning nuclear power stations

Dismantling nuclear: German power firms sell new skills, 9 May 17, By Christoph Steitz | FRANKFURT\  Energy groups E.ON and EnBW are tearing down their nuclear plants at massive cost following Germany’s decision to abandon nuclear power by 2022, but they are seeking to turn a burden into business by exporting their newfound dismantling skills.

Germany is the only country in the world to dump the technology as a direct consequence of Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011, a decision that came as a major blow to the two energy firms which owned most of Germany’s 17 operational nuclear stations.

E.ON and EnBW have already shut down five plants between them and must close another five by 2022. Not only are they losing a major profit driver – a station could earn 1 million euros ($1.1 million) a day – but are also facing combined decommissioning costs of around 17 billion euros.

This tough new reality has nonetheless forced them to rapidly acquire expertise in the lengthy and complex process of dismantling nuclear plants – presenting an unlikely but potentially lucrative business opportunity in a world where dozens of reactors are set to be closed over the next 25 years.

They say their skills are attracting the interest of international customers. Continue reading

May 10, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, Germany | Leave a comment

Germany’s record of renewable energy: only 15% from fossil fuels and nuclear last weekend

Germany breaks renewables record with coal and nuclear power responsible for only 15% of country’s total energy

Electricity prices fell to negative figures for several hours on Sunday, as renewable sources fed so much power into the grid that supply exceeded demand Charlotte England  @charlottengland, 5 May 17, Germany has broken a new record for renewable energy, with low-carbon sources nearly obliterating coal and nuclear power last weekend.

  • At one point on the sunny and breezy Sunday, sustainable energy from windsolar, biomass and hydro power provided a record 85 per cent of the country’s total energy
  • Germany has been investing heavily in renewables, as part of the government’s Energiewende initiative to transition away from fossil fuels and nuclear power to a low carbon, environmentally sound, reliable, and affordable energy supply by 2050.
Investment in sustainable energy has been so successful that for several hours on Sunday electricity prices fell into negative figures, as renewable sources fed so much power into the grid that supply exceeded demand.

Coal use fell to an all-time low, with public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reporting that on 30 April coal-fired power stations were only operational between three and four in the afternoon and  produced less than eight gigawatts of energy, well below their maximum output of about 50 gigawatts.

“Most of Germany’s coal-fired power stations were not even operating on Sunday,” Patrick Graichen of Agora Energiewende told Australian news site RenewEconomy.

“Nuclear power sources, which are planned to be completely phased out by 2022, were also severely reduced.”

Mr Graichen added that days like Sunday would be “completely normal” by 2030 thanks to the government’s continued investment in the Energiewende initiative.

Germany announced in May 2011 that it plans to shut down all its nuclear power plants by 2022, in addition to nearly eliminating fossil fuel power..

The country’s ambitious energy transition aims for at least 80 per cent of all power to come from renewables by 2050, with intermediate targets of 35 to 40 percent share by 2025 and 55 to 60 percent by 2035.

The EU as a whole is also striving to meet stringent sustainable energy targets, albeit more modest ones than Germany.

While the bloc is on course to meet 2020 goals of 20 per cent of energy from renewable sources, the UK is lagging behind.

MPs on the Energy and Climate Change Committee warned the Government last year that, on its current course, the UK will fail to achieve its 2020 renewable energy targets — to provide for 15 per cent of its energy needs from renewable sources

May 6, 2017 Posted by | Germany, renewable | Leave a comment

Germany’s record 85% renewables over weekend

Graph of the day: Germany’s record 85% renewables over weekend [good graphs] REneweconomy By Giles Parkinson on 4 May 2017 Germany achieves a record level of 85 per cent renewable energy generation on April 30 – part of the May 1 long weekend – with wind and solar providing significant lifts in output and along with biomass and hydro almost completely sidelining hard coal plants.

May 5, 2017 Posted by | Germany, renewable | Leave a comment

Giant renewable energy storage battery – a transformation for a coal mine

Germany Converts Coal Mine into Giant Battery to Store Renewable Energy for off-Hours EnviroNews World News  on April 2, 2017  North Rhein Westphalia, Germany — The Prosper-Haniel hard coal mine, slated to be shut down in 2018 when government subsidies run out, is being repurposed to become a giant battery for excess power created by renewable energy sources. Located in North Rhein Westphalia, the coal mine’s conversion will allow Germany to store 200 MW of electricity for use during times when solar and wind are unavailable or unable to meet energy needs.

The storage is formed by a reservoir of water above the mine. The water can be released into the system when it is needed. As gravity pulls the water into the coal mine below, the water turns a turbine creating electricity. The water is then pumped back to the reservoir. This can be done when power prices are lower or when renewable energy sources are making more energy than people are using, as they did in Germany on May 12, 2016. This isn’t the first pumped hydroelectric storage station; however, it is the first one to use a coal mine for its lower reservoir.

According to Governor Hannelore Kraft, the miners of Bottrop will remain employed during the conversion process. Thus the plan addresses two concerns about which most opponents are vocal when it comes to energy sources like solar and wind. It creates a storage system, and it keeps people employed…….

April 3, 2017 Posted by | energy storage, Germany | Leave a comment

Declassified US documents suggest Adolf Hitler did have a nuclear bomb in 1944

text-historyDID HITLER HAVE A NUKE? Declassified US documents suggest Adolf Hitler successfully tested nuclear bomb during World War Two Two pilots claim they witnesses a mushroom cloud while flying over Nazi Germany in 1944   BY ALLAN HALL  23rd February 2017 

February 25, 2017 Posted by | Germany, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Germany, and Swiss groups question why Swiss nuclear reactor is again shut down

Germany demands answers after Swiss nuclear reactor is restarted… and then shut down again, The Local, 20 Feb 17, The German environment minister has demanded answers from the Swiss authorities after the Leibstadt nuclear reactor in the canton of Aargau near the German border was switched off on Friday night, just seven hours after being restarted following a six months shutdown.

Shortly after the reactor was brought on line at around 5.30pm on Friday, operator KKL noted a malfunction of the exhaust system responsible for filtering gases from the condenser in a non-nuclear area of the reactor, KKL said in a statement……
Greenpeace has also criticized the move, while 16,000 people have signed a petition against the reactor led by a Swiss Green Party politician, reported Swiss news agencies.
Some 12 Swiss and German groups have written to the Swiss government to demand the shutdown of the reactor. ……

February 22, 2017 Posted by | Germany, politics international, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Jeremy Scahill on Donald Trump and the Military-Industrial Complex 

by Alexander Reed Kelly
Feb 2, 2017 
In an interview with acTVism, investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill discussed the connection between President Trump’s Cabinet picks and the military-industrial complex.

Scahill also addressed the history of anti-war movements and Germany’s role in the United States’ “war on terror.” He examined the significance of the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, and questioned the legality of its activities.

Jeremy Scahill on the Military Industrial Complex, Donald Trump, Ramstein & Anti-War Movements


February 6, 2017 Posted by | Germany, politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Aging Belgian nuclear reactors causing safety worries for neighbouring Germany

Dangerous neighbors: German-Belgian nuclear agreement doesn’t fix problem, DW 20 Dec 16
Can an agreement allay fears of a looming nuclear accident in Belgium? Two of its power stations, situated very close to Germany, are causing considerable alarm.   
Doel 3 and Tihange 2 are the names of the nuclear power stations that have got many people living along Germany’s border with Belgium very worried indeed. These reactor blocks belong to power stations that were first connected to the grid more than 40 years ago.

Over the years, the reactor pressure vessels have sustained damage. Germany’s environment minister, Barbara Hendricks (SPD), gives a forthright response when asked about the two reactors. “We know that there are a lot of hairline cracks in the reactor pressure vessels,” she says. It sounds very alarming.

Doel 3 and Tihange 2 are very close to the German-Belgian border. Doel, near Antwerp, is just 150 kilometers (93 miles) away; it’s only 60 kilometers to Tihange, near Liege. This is why Hendricks called on Belgium as early as last April to shut down both reactor blocks until they had been made safe. The Belgian government refused. It doesn’t deem its nuclear power plants to be a risk. This attitude has a lot to do with the fact that more than half of Belgium’s power is supplied by nuclear energy.

‘We can’t change that’

At least an agreement has been reached. Environment minister Hendricks and Belgium’s minister of the interior, Jan Jambon, have signed a new German-Belgian agreement to cooperate on nuclear safety. But what is it worth? The agreement is a compromise. The German side would have much preferred Belgium to shut down the damaged nuclear reactors immediately, but Brussels had little sympathy with Germany’s efforts to intervene. Whether or not reactors are shut down, and how long for, remains a national issue. “We can’t change that,” said Barbara Hendricks – and this was the German government’s dilemma before the agreement was even signed…….

Neubronner says the situation at both nuclear sites in Belgium is extremely alarming. “The number of incidents reported at the plants has risen dramatically. Stresses, such as a thermal shock, could enlarge the cracks in the reactor pressure vessels, which would drastically increase the danger of the pressure vessel bursting,” she says. “This would lead to a reactor core meltdown. There’s a risk of an MCA [maximum credible accident].”

North Rhine-Westphalia would be ‘more or less’ affected

A study has shown that, in the event of a nuclear accident in Tihange, the city of Aachen and the surrounding region could be severely irradiated. Just a few weeks ago, Professor Wolfgang Renneberg from the Institute of Safety and Risk Sciences at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna calculated that “if an accident were to happen, there is a 10 percent likelihood that Aachen would become uninhabitable.” The whole of North Rhine-Westphalia would be “more or less” affected……….

December 21, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, Germany, safety | Leave a comment

Germany’s parliament approves nuclear waste deal with industry

Bundestag approves nuclear waste deal with industry, DW, 15 Dec 16  An overwhelming majority in Germany’s parliament has given the go-ahead for a reponsibility-splitting deal to clean up nuclear waste. It’s the final chapter in a decades-long story. The deal will require four of Germany’s largest energy providers to pay more than 23 billion euros ($24.1 billion) into a state-administered fund to deal with the aftermath of nuclear power in return for legal immunity. The deal was passed with the votes of the ruling coalition of the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Green Party by a margin of 581 to 58.

The agreement is the latest step in Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear energy, which was made after the Fukushima disaster in 2011. Addressing the Bundestag before the vote, Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel harkened back to the beginnings of the “no-nukes” movement among private citizens in Denmark, Germany and other parts of Europe in the mid-1970s.

“The stickers with the picture of the sun laughing became a symbol for a successful energy policy,” Gabriel said, promising that Germany would safely dispose of nuclear waste rather than simply exporting it to other parts of the world……..

Under the terms of the deal, power companies will only bear part of the costs of the clean-up. The German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin (DIW) estimates that the bill for the decades-long nuclear phase-out could reach 170 billion euros ($178 billion).

“The actual costs will be a lot more than the estimates,” DIW Energy Division Director Claudia Kemfert told Deutsche Welle in October, when the details of the arrangement were hammered out. “So the deal only covers a fraction of the actual costs, and society will have to pick up the rest.”

Kemfert said that the power companies had gotten a “free pass,” a sentiment echoed in parliament by the Left Party, which voted against the deal.

“The companies are being released from responsibility with a golden handshake,” said Left Party energy spokeswoman Eva Bulling-Schröter.”The costs are going to go up.”

The issue of lawsuits filed by energy companies against the German government’s nuclear phase-out has yet to be fully resolved. The government will now begin negotiations aimed at ending the various legal actions in return for the clean-up compromise.

December 17, 2016 Posted by | Germany, politics | Leave a comment

German government negotiates successfully with nuclear companies over costs of wastes.

flag_germanyGermany Cuts Deal With Nuclear Power Companies Over Waste Costs  Government, companies seek to put ceiling on costs related to disposal of radioactive waste, WSJ,  By  ZEKE TURNER Dec. 12, 2016  BERLIN—The German government has cut a deal with the nuclear power companies operating in the country that would guarantee them a ceiling on costs related to radioactive waste, lawmakers said Monday.


Germany’s E.ON SERWE AG, EnBW AG and Sweden’s Vattenfall AB already set aside about €17 billion ($18 billion) to finance the disposal of radioactive waste after the government moved to ban nuclear power five years ago.

Under Monday’s deal, they would pay an additional €6 billion into a public fund but be off the hook for any further payments if the cost of processing the radioactive material were to balloon out of control in the decades to come, as many experts fear.

 The companies have also agreed to drop some of the lawsuits they filed against the government after the nuclear ban……..The deal announced by lawmakers from the CDU, its coalition partner Social Democrats and the opposition Greens party is the latest round in a recent rapprochement between the nuclear energy industry and the government.

Following a debate and vote on Thursday morning in the Bundestag, the government will negotiate the details over the fund’s capitalization with the companies……..

December 14, 2016 Posted by | Germany, politics | Leave a comment

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

 justiceflag_germanyLimiting the greed of the nuclear industry 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……

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