New plans for German reactors

20 December 2010

A sweeping review of operations for Krümmel and Brunsbüttel nuclear power plants is to start, with the aim of rapidly bringing them back into service. 


EOn Kernkraft and Vattenfall jointly own Krümmel, while Vattenfall has a majority stake and EOn a one-third stake in Brunsbüttel. Both are boiling water reactors with capacities of 1260 MWe and 771 MWe respectively.


A review by the companies follows changes in Germany's energy laws enacted this year, under which Brunsbüttel and Krümmel and can expect to operate until 2018 and 2030 respectively. These dates represent an addition nine years of operation for Brunsbüttel and 14 years for Krümmel compared to dates originally slated in 2001 after the 'nuclear exit law'.


The units have been offline for some time, Brunsbüttel having shut down in 2007 following a grid-facilitated trip, and Krümmel after a transformer fault following an earlier transformer fire also in 2007. Under the previous shutdown schedule there was little incentive to bring reactors back online swiftly because more generation used up their allowances more quickly and hastened final shutdown. EOn Energie CEO Ingo Luge said the new arrangements in Germany "changed the regulatory environment for operating these facilities in some very fundamental ways."


Krummel (Quartl)
Krümmel (Image: Quartl)


"We're looking hard at options for optimizing operations at all of our nuclear power stations, in part due to current safety regulations and the investments necessary to comply with them. We intend to thoroughly analyze all technical, financial, and legal aspects of the situation. This will provide a solid basis for designing feasible solutions for the future of Krümmel and Brunsbüttel," said Luge.


A joint statement said the technical situation and the operating processes at each plant would be reviewed and the companies would "calculate the investments necessary to overhaul and update them." One aspect of the review will be whether EOn should take over operational responsibility from Vattenfall.


The extension of operational limits on German nuclear plants came with a hefty tax of €145 per gram of uranium or plutonium set to net the government some €2.3 billion per year. This is causing German utilities to reconsider their operating regimes, possibly away from the baseload role to follow demand curves instead. All German plants were built to have load-following capability and can moderate output by a few percent per minute. This practice, however, comes with operational issues such as potential uneven burning of nuclear fuel in the core and additional stresses on some components.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News