12 Oct 2015 | Sören Amelang, Ellen Thalman

In the media: Questions remain after test of nuclear clean-up funds

Reuters

“Germany says firms set aside enough nuclear decommissioning funds”

According to the government, stress tests show that nuclear power plant operators have set aside enough funds to pay for decommissioning their reactors, even though the calculations also show the potential cost could far exceed their current provisions of 38.3 billion euros, reports Reuters. The utilities said the report showed they were fully able to shoulder the cost of the nuclear exit. “While the worst case scenario shows the energy companies were still short by almost 40 billion euros, the Economy Ministry said their combined assets were worth around 83 billion euros. This meant they would be in a position to meet the costs,” according to the Reuters report. The government now plans to set up a committee to assess the results of the stress tests and to deal with the question of how to dispose of nuclear waste in a final repository.

Read the Reuters story in English here and a Bloomberg article here.

Read the utilities’ press release in English here.

Read the energy ministry’s press release in English here.

Find the CLEW dossier on “The challenges of Germany’s nuclear phase-out” here.

Read the CLEW factsheet “Securing utility payments for the nuclear clean-up” here.

 

Süddeutsche Zeitung

“Don’t Panic”

Only by deliberately ignoring all of the auditors' critical remarks is it possible to conclude that there is no reason to worry about the size of nuclear provisions, writes Michael Bauchmüller in a commentary for the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Holes worth billions of euros lurk, which would have to be plugged by the taxpayers. But the slogan is: Don’t panic,” he writes. Bauchmüller says there is a vicious circle, because as soon as doubts arise about the utilities’ capacity to pay, their shares fall, and therefore also their real capacity to do so. But playing this game means energy minister Sigmar Gabriel is giving in to the interests of the utilities, argues Bauchmüller.

Read the commentary in German here.

 

Die Zeit

“Who pays for the nuclear phase-out?”

Despite assurances from energy minister Sigmar Gabriel and the utilities, it is questionable whether the provisions will suffice, writes Petra Pinzler in Die Zeit. The transition to renewable energies massively damages the companies’ traditional business models and it remains uncertain whether they can reinvent themselves. This is why it is so difficult to secure the provisions for nuclear decommissioning, writes Pinzler. “If you take the money away from the companies, they might go bankrupt in the worst case. If you leave it there, it might eventually disappear.”

Read the article in German here.

Find a CLEW factsheet on the utilities’ troubles in the face of the Energiewende here.

 

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“Nuclear interim results”

The auditors calculated the effect of various interest rate scenarios in the utilities' provisions, but ignored the fact that no-one knows how much the disposal of nuclear waste will ultimately cost, writes Helmut Bünder in a commentary for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Experience suggests it will be more expensive than current estimates predict, writes Bünder. “If the economics ministry says nuclear provisions will suffice, then it is primarily meant to calm financial markets,” he says. The author argues politicians have understood they cannot put additional burdens on the utilities, and that taxpayers will yet again be liable.

 

Greenpeace/Die Welt

“Vatttenfall sale: Greenpeace officially accepted for further process”

Greenpeace will tell Vattenfall by 20 October whether it is serious about buying the Swedish utility’s German brown coal operations, Greenpeace says in a press release. Citibank, which is managing the sale of the Swedish utility’s German lignite power plants, has invited the environmental group to submit a “Statement of Interest”, Greenpeace says. “We will specify our intentions on 20 October,” said Greenpeace’s Swedish programme director Annika Jacobson. The sale includes brown coal power plants Jänschwalde and Schwarze Pumpe in Brandenburg and Boxberg and Block R of the plant Lippendorf in Sachsen, writes Die Welt, noting that these plants combined emit around 65 million tonnes of CO2 a year, more than the entire country of Sweden. According to a Greenpeace analysis, Germany has to completely exit coal-fired electricity production by 2040 and from brown coal by 2030. Two Czech companies are also interested in the operations, writes Die Welt. The process is likely to stretch into 2016, it said.

Read the Greenpeace press release in German here.

Read the article in Die Welt in German here.

Read a CLEW factsheet about coal here.

 

Agora Energiewende

“Understanding the Energiewende”

A new report by Agora Energiewende* answers some of the most common questions people have about Germany’s energy transition, or Energiewende. The focus is the power sector and its transformation to renewable energies like wind and solar. In particular, the report looks at how Germany’s experience could be relevant to other countries considering similar policies.

Read the report in English here.

*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende is a project funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.

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