EOn's one year on

14 March 2012

EOn's annual report has made clear some of the impacts, financial and environmental, of Germany's reaction to the Fukushima accident.

The utility recorded a €1.5 billion ($1.9 billion) one-off cost for the overnight closure of its Unterweser, Isar 1, Krummel, and Brunsbuttel nuclear power reactors, which also directly resulted in it producing almost 12 billion kWh less than in 2010. Adding in the total costs of the ongoing nuclear fuel tax as well as accelerated decommissioning plans for the shuttered units, the total financial impact has been €2.5 billion ($3.2 billion) over the last 12 months.

Explaining that a range of economic factors have dampened demand, and that gas and power markets are oversupplied, EOn's entire operation produced 31.7 billion kWh less and saw a 44% drop in earnings from power generation. This contributed to a 30% earnings drop overall. However, said EOn, it is "past the worst," in a mission to restructure itself into "EOn 2.0". The company turned its attention to the challenges of a "new operating environment" in August 2011, announcing the likely loss of 9000-11,000 jobs.

"EOn is implementing the political majority's decision on an earlier phaseout of nuclear energy.

At the same time, however, EOn believes that the nuclear phaseout, under the current legislation, is irreconcilable with our constitutional right to property and our constitutional freedom to operate a business.

In any case, such an intervention is unconstitutional unless compensation is granted for the rights so deprived. Consequently we expect appropriate compensation for the billions of euros in stranded assets created by this decision."

EOn's 2011 Annual Report

The group saw its net generating capacity decrease by 800 MWe to 46,846 MWe, mainly because of the nuclear shutdown, although the start-up of new gas-fired units helped to offset this. Renewables grew by 600 MWe thanks to new wind farms coming online in the USA.

EOn noted a setback in achieving its target to reduce specific emissions from power generation to half of 1990 baseline levels by 2020. Instead of decreasing during 2011, "Carbon intensity [of EOn generation] in Europe rose from 0.39 metric tonnes per MWh to 0.41 tonnes."

This rise of 5% "is attributable to Germany's decision in 2011 to shut down several nuclear power stations, which eliminated a portion of our carbon-free generation in our largest market. Nevertheless, reducing our carbon intensity remains our long-term objective."

"Due to the gradual phase-out of nuclear energy in Germany by 2022," said EOn, "we expect to achieve our emissions target... five years later."

In a section on external risks, EOn said: "There is a risk that the remaining [nuclear] plants may not be able to make full use of their assigned production volumes before their respective operating lives expire."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News