THE German federal government has approved a draft law that will see the country’s nuclear power station operators pay into a €23.556bn (US$26bn) decommissioning, waste storage and disposal fund.
In 2011, following the meltdown at Fukushima in Japan, Germany took the decision to phase out nuclear energy generation and immediately withdrew the operating licences of eight reactors. Nine more must close down by 2022. Ever since, there has been wrangling and uncertainty about who would bear responsibility for decommissioning and cleanup of nuclear sites, and waste storage.
The new deal was proposed in April by a government commission set up to review the funding of the withdrawal of nuclear energy – the Kommission zur Überprüfung der Finanzierung des Kernenergieausstiegs (KFK) – and has now been accepted. The operators, E.ON, RWE, Vattenfall and EnBW, will share responsibility for the main costs, and will pay €17.389bn, along with a risk premium of 35.47%, €6.167bn, into the cleanup fund, which has been structured as a public foundation. The money can be paid as a lump sum or in instalments.
The German federal government will bear the responsibility for storing the waste, after the operators have decommissioned sites and processed and packaged the waste.
“We ensure the availability of long-term financing for taking a nuclear power plant offline, demolishing it and safely disposing of all associated wastes, without disproportionately burdening the taxpayer and without endangering the economic viability of the operator,” said German economy and energy minister Sigmar Gabriel.
E.ON said that it welcomed the government’s decision to implement the proposals and that it “sees the possibility of finding a social consensus” on what to do with nuclear waste and “end a controversial topic”.
“E.ON is prepared to make a significant contribution to make this consensus happen. The implementation will coincide with a release from liability for interim and final storage of nuclear waste,” the company says. “In the interest of lasting legal certainty for all sides involved, E.ON deems it necessary to not only have a rapid legislative process but to also swiftly achieve a direct agreement between the federal government and the operators.”
The German federal government hopes to implement the act on 31 December 2016, subject to approval by parliament.
Catch up on the latest news, views and jobs from The Chemical Engineer. Below are the four latest issues. View a wider selection of the archive from within the Magazine section of this site.