A group of ten German and Austrian renewable energy suppliers and municipalities plans to file a lawsuit against European Commission approval of state aid for the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the UK.
Energy cooperative Greenpeace Energy, Energieversorgung Filstal, Oekostrom AG and the municiapilities of Aalen, Bietigheim-Bissingen, Bochum, Mainz, Mühlacker, Schwäbisch Hall and Tübingen announced their intention to file a plea for annulment with the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg. According to their statement dated 2 July, the filing will take place within days.
The group, which refers to itself as the Action Alliance, alleges that EDF's proposed EPR plant at Hinkley Point and proposed nuclear power plants in Europe, could affect German electricity prices by up to 12% and "massively distort" competition. They say that the European Commission's October 2014 approval of UK plans to support the project through long-term price guarantees – known as contracts-for-difference – sets a precedent for future nuclear projects.
They say that the companies in the alliance are entitled to sue because they are "directly and individually affected" by the European Commission's state aid decision, claiming that the large-scale expansion of nuclear power in Europe "has a clearly negative effect on the market value of wind and solar power in Germany".
The alliance has commissioned its own study by the Berlin-based Energy Brainpool institute which it says substantiates its concern. The institute's calculations suggest that nuclear power plants currently "under planning" in six European Union member states "could lower the wholesale price of electricity in Germany by as much as 11.8%."
Germany decided to phase out its own nuclear power plants following the 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan, ultimately replacing them with increased renewable energy generation. In working towards its goal, Germany has seen its use of fossil fuels increase, and subsidies intended to drive the expansion of renewables has also prompted increases in electricity prices.
The alliance claims that the European Commission's 2014 approval of subsidies for the UK new build project contains "numerous legal errors".
Austria's Constitutional Service of the Federal Chancellery recently said it intended to file a lawsuit against the European Commission decision, with federal chancellor Werner Faymann saying that the action was intended not only to suspend the aid, but also to deter investors in nuclear power as part of Austria's anti-nuclear policy. As yet, no suit has been filed.
Two Areva EPR reactors are planned for Hinkley Point C. EDF Energy has yet to make a final investment decision on the project, but has invested significantly in preparatory activities at the site.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News