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Dictionary

German Energy Technology

Following the collapse of confidence in the nuclear industry's safety assurances in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, Germany immediately began a dramatic nuclear foreclosure programme, planning a complete exit from nuclear electricity and thermal generation by 2022. This is for a range reasons: safety, environmental, financial, social, political, but also most tellingly, financial.

German nuclear power plant shut-downs

8 German nuclear power plants, in operation since 1975-1984, were shut down in 2011. Another plant (Grafenrheinfeld) was shut down in 2015, and Gundremmingen B, a 1.3 GW boiling water reactor dating from 1984, was shut down in December 2017.

8 German nuclear power plants, in operation since 1975-1984, were shut down in 2011. Another plant (Grafenrheinfeld) was shut down in 2015, and Gundremmingen B, a 1.3 GW boiling water reactor dating from 1984, was shut down in December 2017.

Here is a list of the remaining 7 German reactors and their respective decommissioning dates:

NameOp.ClosureTypeOutput (gross el.)Owner
Philippsburg 21985Dec 31, 2019PWR1.468 GW
Gundremmingen C1985Dec 31, 2021BWR1.344 GWKGG
Grohnde1985Dec 31, 2021PWR1.360 GWGGG
Brokdorf1986Dec 31, 2021PWR1.480 GWE.ON (80 %) und Vattenfall (20 %)
Isar 21988Dec 31, 2022PWR(IV)*1.485 GWE.ON
Emsland1988Dec 31, 2022PWR(IV)*1.406 GWKKW Lippe-Ems
Neckarwestheim 21989Dec 31, 2022PWR (IV)*1.400 GWEnBW

* III = third generation; IV = fourth generation

BWR = Boiling Water Reactor; PWR = Pressurised Water Reactor

The decommissioning and disposal phase of these reactors will last till 2035. The total number of reactors being decommissioned by 2035 is 17, at a cost of around 45 billion euro. As of end of 2015, there is a shortfall in decommissioning fund provisions of at least 8 billion euro. The decommissioning programme is regulated by the Nuclear Energy Law: Atomgesetz (§ 7) von 2011

German Atomic Energy Act AtG

The German law governing the peaceful use of atomic energy and the protection against nuclear hazards (Atomgesetz 2011) governs the management of nuclear power generation, ionising radiation safety, nuclear waste management and the phase-out of atomic energy in Germany by 2022.

Since its inception in 1960, the German Atomgesetz had 12 amendments by the time of the Nuclear energy Phase-Out amendment of 2011. The latest version came into force on 29 July 2017.

2002 Amendment

A rewriting of the Atomgesetz, which came into force on 27 April 2002, based on the agreement between the federal government and the power companies (Energieversorgungsunternehmen) of 14 June 2000. The 2002 Edition of the Nuclear Energy Law includes: a ban on new commercial nuclear power stations; a limit of on average 32 years operational life of existing nuclear power stations; a limit of 2.62 PWh (2,620 billion kWh) could be produced by AKWs as of 1 January 2000 (this allowed the industry some flexibility concerning closures: by June 2010, 62% of this amount had been produced); presumption that the last remaining AKW would be taken offline by 2021; safety inspections were for the first time imposed by law; ban on the export of nuclear waste for reprocessing (e.g. to La Hague and Sellafield) from 1 July 2005, instead operators had to create intermediate storage for used fuel rods at the reactor sites; liability insurance ceiling of 2.5 billion euro per AKW, making operators directly liable for damages beyond this amount.

2010 Amendment

The amendment to the German nuclear energy law, which came into force on 14 December 2010, allowed the operational periods of the seven nuclear power stations built before 1980 to be extended by 8 years (to ages over 38 years), and the other plants by 14 years.

2011 Amendment

After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe of 11 March 2011, a 3-month moratorium was imposed on the seven oldest German nuclear reactors and AKW Krümmel (1984), and the subsequent withdrawal of their licence. The Nuclear Energy Law was amended on 31 July 2011 (in force 6 August 2011), to push forward the nuclear phase-out programme, whereby the remaining 9 power stations would be closed down gradually o

Following the collapse of confidence in the nuclear industry's safety assurances in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, Germany immediately began a dramatic nuclear foreclosure programme, planning a complete exit from nuclear electricity and thermal generation by 2022. This is for a range of reasons: safety, environmental, financial, social, political, but also most tellingly, financial.

Gundremmingen Nuclear Power Station
Gundremmingen Nuclear Power Station. Photo courtesy of Felix Koenig