17 Dec 2014, 00:00
Kerstine Appunn

In the media: State fund for nuclear waste, falling power consumption, Vattenfall

Süddeutsche Zeitung

“Nuclear power companies should pay 17 billion euros into fund”

The German government plans to establish a fund for the costs of dismantling and disposal of nuclear power stations, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports, citing an internal paper from the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry for Energy and Economic Affairs. Under current legislation, nuclear power station operators must hold provisions of 36 billion euros to deal with nuclear waste and retired power stations. But since the large utilities running Germany's nuclear facilities are struggling financially, there have been concerns that these provisions will not be available when needed for nuclear decommissioning, Michael Bauchmüller reports. Under the leaked plans, 19 billion euros of the provisions would stay with the utilities, who will continue to be responsible for the dismantling of nuclear power stations and temporary waste storage. But they would have to pay the other 17 billion euros into the state run fund to guarantee these obligations and to pay for long-term costs such as final waste storage, the article says. The paper proposes that in case of bankruptcy, utilities will be obliged to settle nuclear decommissioning costs before paying other debts.

In an opinion piece for the same newspaper, Bauchmüller says the state operated fund comes just in time, given the utilities' poor financial situation, which could see their nuclear decommissioning obligations push them over the edge. The government’s proposal does not strangle the utilities but it ensures the required funds will be available. Those who earned money from nuclear power must also pay for its decommissioning, Bauchmüller writes.

Read the article in German here.

See a CLEW factsheet on the history of the nuclear phase-out in Germany here.


Reuters/Tagesspiegel Online

“Vattenfall wants a quick exit from lignite”

Vattenfall’s European director Tuomo Hatakka said the company is looking for a quick sale of its German lignite operations, Reuters reports. The mines and power stations located in east Germany could fetch 2 - 3 billion euros, and article says, and mining company MIBRAG, owned by Czech power group EPH, has already shown an interest. Speaking in Dusseldorf on Tuesday, Hatakka insisted Vattenfall would meet its obligations decommissioning nuclear facilities once the sale was completed, saying it had sufficient cash flow to cover these costs. Hatakka added that Vattenfall was open to talks with the government over a fund to pay for the process.

See the article in German here.

See the article in English here.


Hamburger Abendblatt

“Following the nuclear phase-out no one wants lignite”

“MIBRAG would clearly have an interest” in Vattenfall’s lignite operations, a spokesperson for the mining company told the Hamburger Abendblatt. In a report for the paper by Olaf Preuß, Greenpeace responded that the sale would not be helpful on the issue of climate change, and that Vattenfall should hold onto the operations and develop a plan to phase out coal in favour of renewables. The article says that while Vattenfall is seeking to sell its Saxony and Brandenburg lignite operations as quickly as possible, its new hard coal-burning Moorburg power plant in Hamburg – one of the biggest hard coal plants in Europe – would not be affected. Preuß writes that phasing out coal presents far greater challenges that Germany’s nuclear exit: at times of peak demand, nuclear covered just a quarter of Germany’s power demand via 20 facilities, while 66 hard coal and 52 lignite power stations contribute around 45 percent.

See the article in German here.


Die Welt

“Germany’s special way”

Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel is making an effort to put Germany's “chaotic” Energiewende policies in order, as even his critics in the energy sector agree, according to an article in Die Welt. Martin Greive and Daniel Wetzel write that Gabriel will have to be careful not to lead Germany on a "special path" by opting for a national strategic power reserve rather than joining a common capacity market with France. Doing so would likely slow down the formation of a single European energy market. Germany is also on a different path from the EU on climate protection targets, the authors write. The EU plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020, while Germany sticks to its ambitious target of 40 percent. This requires a national intervention to reduce emissions from coal fired power stations that was not foreseen by the European emissions trading system, the article says.

See the article in German here.



“Power and gas consumption falls”

Due to mild weather in 2014, German consumption of gas (for heating) has fallen by 14 percent compared to the previous year. Power consumption was down by four percent, according to preliminary calculations by the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), the Handelsblatt reports. Consumers can see their power and gas bills fall, the newspaper writes. Germans used 534 billion kilowatt-hours electricity in 2014, compared to 555.1 billion kilowatt-hours in 2013, with the BDEW putting the decrease down to weakened activity of energy intensive industry, mild weather and increased energy efficiency measures.

See the BDEW press release in German here.

See the Handelsblatt article in German here.

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