Nuclear FALLOUT

Vattenfall Demands Billions for Atomic Assets

The lights at Vatenfall's Krümmel nuclear power plant were turned off in 2011. Source: Imago
The lights at Vatenfall's Krümmel nuclear power plant were turned off in 2011.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Power companies say Germany’s decision to shut nuclear reactors violates their property rights and destroys assets.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • After Japan’s Fukushima catastrophe, the German government decided to immediately shut down eight of 17 nuclear plants in Germany.
    • Vattenfall’s demand for €4.7 billion in compensation for closing nuclear power plants in Krümmel and Brunsbüttel is much higher than expected.
    • German energy companies RWE and E.On cannot request arbitration from the international dispute center.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

The Swedish state energy company Vattenfall is suing the German government for €4.7 billion ($6 billion) for shutting down nuclear plants in Germany.

German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel disclosed the damage suit to a parliamentary committee, according to a spokesperson for the socialist Left party.

Vattenfall has contacted the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington D.C. The firm is arguing that, in effect, Germany destroyed its assets by deciding in 2011 to phase out nuclear power.

Vattenfall had already warned it would begin legal proceedings over the reactor shutdowns, but it was unclear how much the utility would seek. The €4.7 billion compensation wanted for nuclear power plants in Krümmel and Brunsbüttel is much higher than expected. Vattenfall could not be reached for a comment at its headquarters in Stockholm.

E.On is demanding €8 billion from German taxpayers and RWE wants about €2 billion for two phased-out reactors at Biblis.

The demand for compensation from Germany comes shortly after Sweden’s new center-left government announced it would push state-owned Vattenfall towards renewable energy sources, calling into question the future of its nuclear plants back home.A spokeswoman for the German Green party called Vattenfall’s damage demand “brazen.” It is unclear when the international dispute center will reach a decision on whether Vattenfall received “fair and just treatment” by Germany.

Only a few months before its decision to phase out nuclear energy, the German government had extended the operating lifespan for reactors across the country. The sudden turnabout – following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan – is cited by legal experts as a reason the Swedish company might actually win compensation.

After Fukushima, the German government decided to immediately shut down eight of 17 nuclear power plants in Germany. The others are scheduled to go offline by 2022. The energy giants E.On, RWE and Vattenfall argue the accelerated nuclear phase-out is a violation of their property rights.

RWE and E.On, which are German companies, cannot request arbitration from the international dispute center. Instead, the companies have joined Vattenfall in submitting a complaint before Germany’s Constitutional Court. A decision is expected next year. Vattenfall has also appealed to an arbitration court in the United States. It is not known when a verdict will be issued.

E.On is demanding €8 billion from German taxpayers. RWE wants about €2 billion for two phased-out reactors at Biblis in the state of Hesse, a source told the Reuters news agency.

 

032 Vattenfall-01

 

 

Helmut Steuer is Handelsblatt’s Stockholm correspondent. To contact the author: steuer@handelsblatt.com.

We hope you enjoyed this article

Make sure to sign up for our free newsletters too!