RWE appeals against German moratorium

01 April 2011

RWE Power has today lodged an appeal with the Administrative Court of Appeal in Kassel against the three-month shutdown of its Biblis nuclear power plant ordered by the German government. 


Biblis (Areva)
RWE's Biblis plant
Four days after the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan, the German government declared a three-month moratorium on nuclear power, in which eight reactors will stay offline, checks will take place and nuclear policy may be reconsidered. In addition, a recently made decision to allow lifetime extension for nuclear power plants beyond a pre-established shutdown schedule has now been suspended, contingent of the results of safety tests.


Chancellor Angela Merkel decreed that the country's nuclear power reactors that began operation in 1980 or earlier should be immediately shut down. The reactors affected were Biblis-A, Neckarwestheim 1, Brunsbuttel, Biblis-B, Isar 1, Unterweser, Phillipsburg 1. Already in a long-term shutdown is Krummel and this is included despite starting in 1984.


The shutdown of the units has taken out a total of 8336 MWe of Germany's generating capacity, meaning the loss of about 13.7 TWh in power that would have been generated over the three months. This has a market value of over €1 billion ($1.3 billion).


RWE said that it shut down its Biblis-A unit immediately as a result of the decree, while Biblis-B was already undergoing a scheduled outage.


However, the company claims that there was no legal basis for the German government to order such a measure. It suggests that, since Germany's nuclear power plants already comply with all the relevant safety requirements, there are no legal grounds for shutting them. RWE said that it has taken the step of appealing in order to protect the interests of its shareholders.


However, RWE added, "Notwithstanding the appeal, the company supports the German government's decision to conduct a safety review of all its nuclear power plants."


The company acknowledged that lessons are to be learned from the Fukushima accident and noted, "It is a necessary and logical step to examine the severe nuclear accident in Japan very carefully and use any relevant insights derived from such an analysis to enhance the already high safety standards of German nuclear power plants. RWE also expressly welcomes all international and European efforts to work closely together in re-examining the safety of nuclear power plants worldwide."


Credit rating


Meanwhile a statement from EnBW supported RWE's conclusion that the shutdown is bad for business. The owner of the Neckarwestheim 1 and Phillipsburg 1 reactors reported that the rating agency Standard & Poor (S&P) has given the company a negative outlook. While maintaining EnBW's good rating of "A/A2" as a result of its stable operating performance, S&P said that the prospect that the government-enforced shutdown of some of the country's reactors could be permanent, which could impact EnBW's profitability in the short- to medium-term.


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News