Talks on cost of anti-nuclear policy

01 June 2011

EOn is counting the cost of Germany's new energy policies and preparing to put its case to government for a multi-billion euro compensation deal. 


The utility was told on 31 May that three reactors representing 3463 MWe of capacity would not be allowed to restart after a knee-jerk shutdown order in the early days of the Fukushima crisis. In addition, the firm's remaining four units, worth 5405 MWe, will have to shut down earlier than proposed by legislation put through earlier this year.


All these plants received approval from safety regulators even in the light of the Fukushima accident.


Chancellor Angela Merkel was re-elected in September 2009 on campaign pledges to extend the use of nuclear power as an 'energy bridge' and push shutdown dates out to the mid-2030s. EOn said today that it had made "substantial investment" based on that, and the sums would be added to the value of lost generation from early shutdowns.


Isar 2 (WaveCult)
Isar 2 had been promised to operate until 2034, but 12 years were cut from that this week. Based on its lifetime capacity factor of over 89%, the 1400 MWe unit could have produced 132 billion kWh in that time - with a market value of over €16 billion ($23 billion) at today's prices


EOn acknowledged that it has to accept "the will of the political majority," but went on to assert that it "expects to receive due compensation for the financial damages associated with these decisions, which is expected to amount to billions of euros."


"The company will now work out the precise financial burden and submit it to the government. By entering into talks with the government the company hopes to avoid a legal dispute."


But in a separate course of action, EOn is preparing an attack on the extraordinary nuclear fuel tax imposed by German leaders in January. Every nuclear power operator has to pay a levy of €145 ($209) for every gram of uranium used - enough to take about half of their operating profit.


This tax is considered by German firms to be out of line with national and EU law, while EOn said imposing it in conjunction with arbitrarily shortened operating lives "raises additional legal issues" and "places EOn at an unreasonable disadvantage in the European competitive market."


The other power companies hit by Germany's attitude to nuclear energy are EnBW, RWE and Vattenfall. They have yet to comment on their new situation. 


Even though nuclear power is out of fashion in Germany, the country's large utilities remain keen to build power plants elsewhere. EOn and RWE have founded the Horizon Nuclear Power joint venture in the UK with a desire to build up to 6600 MWe of new nuclear capacity. EOn is also the major shareholder in the Fennovoima project in Finland to build up to 2500 MWe, while RWE was once keen to take a major stake in Bulgaria's 2120 MWe Belene project.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News