Nuclear Option

Energy Companies Told to Hurry Up

Atomkraftwerk Ohu bei Landsberg, Bayern, Deutschland Nuclear power plant Nuclear power plant OHU at Landsberg Bavaria Germany Nuclear Power plant
Nuclear power plants - where to put them now?
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The German government fears that energy companies are dragging their feet over the phase out of nuclear power, and possibly derailing the country’s ambitious energy policy.

  • Facts


    • Germany’s planned energy transition (“Energiewende”) will involve the gradual phase-out of fossil fuels and nuclear energy and the move to an energy portfolio that is dominated by renewable energies.
    • The government wants Germany’s four biggest energy companies to foot the bill for closing down nuclear power plants and disposing of nuclear waste.
    • The government has appointed auditors to stress test the main energy companies.
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Germany’s Energiewende, its ambitious program to move away from nuclear and fossil fuels and towards renewables is well underway, but the government is still at loggerheads with energy companies over just how the country’s nuclear reactors should be mothballed.

The debate over nuclear decommissioning centers on the issue of who should pay for it. The government argues that the cost of decommissioning and demolishing the plants and of the temporary storage and permanent disposal of nuclear waste should be borne by the parties that have caused it. In this case, that means energy giants E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall. They have made good money from nuclear energy over the years, the thinking goes, and now they should step up and shoulder their responsibilities.

A 13 page report on the state of the program published Thursday makes it clear that the government believes  the country’s four nuclear energy companies are dragging their feet over the final phase-out of nuclear power.

The study, signed off by Ms. Merkel, Horst Seehofer and economy minister Sigmar Gabriel, leaders of the CDU, CSU and SPD parties, which together make up Germany’s left-right coalition, is a battle cry against the nuclear companies, which have fought with the government over the program.

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