EnBW sets provisional date for cooling tower demolition

26 March 2020

The coronavirus outbreak has impacted German utility EnBW’s deconstruction plans for its Philippsburg nuclear power plant, which is in the federal state of Baden-Wurttemberg. The controlled detonation of the plant's cooling towers will take place on 14 May at the earliest as the date may be subject to change, it said.

Unit 2 of the Philippsburg nuclear power plant (Image: EnBW)

Unit 2 of the plant was disconnected from the grid on 31 December last year, as planned, marking the end of 35 years of operation.

"When the detonation will take place exactly is completely open at this point," Jörg Michels, head of EnBW's nuclear division, said on 24 March. He added that timely removal of the cooling towers is a pre-requisite for guaranteeing secure electricity supply in southern Germany. This is because the site on which the two cooling towers are currently still standing is required for a DC substation, or 'converter', that the state's transmission system operator, TransnetBW, plans to build. The converter will be an important hub for the supply of renewable energy in southern Germany, EnBW said.

At the end of last year, Baden-Württemberg’s Ministry of the Environment gave its "basic approval" for the demolition work, EnBW said, as part of decommissioning and dismantling unit 2 of the Philippsburg plant.

"Since then, we have worked intensively on getting all the necessary formal steps under way and carrying out technical and logistical preparatory work," Michels said. "For the demolition itself to be carried out, the on-going formal procedures and the technical preparatory work must be completed," he said. "Even if the date for the explosion is further specified, the meteorological and hydrological boundary conditions that have to be taken into account are unchanged," he added. "With the coronavirus pandemic, another factor has now been added that is currently causing a rethink in almost all areas of public life."

The demolition of the cooling towers was the subject of a public consultation that the ministry conducted in 2018 and 2019 as part of the approval process for decommissioning and dismantling unit 2. That consultation process ended in February 2019.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News