The nuclear power industry in Germany

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Germany - the long phase-out

According to the World Nuclear Association Germany has 17 operating nuclear power reactors which provide 20.6% of the Country’s installed capacity (totalling 20,303 MWe) and which supplied almost one third of the electricity (167 TWh in 2004). Six units are boiling water reactors (BWR), and 11 are pressurised water reactors (PWR).

In June 2000 a "consensus" agreement was reached between the German government and the electric utilities to establish a timetable to phase out nuclear power. The agreement limits nuclear plant lifetime to some degree by putting a cap of 2623 billion kWh on lifetime production by all of the 19 reactors operating at the time - equivalent to an average lifetime of 32 years (less than the 35 years sought by industry).

Two plants, Stade and Obrigheim - were shut down in 2003 and 2005 respectively, and the one non-operational reactor (Muelheim-Kaerlich, 1219 MWe) is being decommissioned from 2003. [1]

Due to the way the electricity industry has developed in Germany with much of it originally controlled by municipally owned utilities, the ownership structure of some of the nuclear reactors is complicated.

==Reactor Ownership==

Reactor Name Reactor-type Capacity Opened Ownership
Biblis A PWR 1167 MW 1974 100% RWE Group
Biblis B PWR 1240 MW 1976 100% RWE Group
Brunsbuttel BWR 771MW 1977 66.7% Vattenfall 33.3% Eon
Brokdorf PWR 1370MW 1986 80% Eon 20% Vattenfall
Emsland PWR 1329MW 1988 87.5% RWE Group 12.5% Eon
Grafenrheinfeld PWR 1275 MW 1982 100% Eon
Grohnde PWR 1360MW 1985 83.3% Eon 16.7% municipal co.
Gundremmingen B BWR 1284MW 1984 75% RWE Group 25% Eon
Gundremmingen C BWR 1288MW 1985 75% RWE Group 25% Eon
Isar 1 BWR 878MW 1979 100% Eon
Isar 2 PWR 1400MW 1988 75% Eon 25% municipal co.
Krummel BWR 1260MW 1984 50% Vattenfall 50% Eon
Neckarwestheim 1 PWR 741MW 1976 100% EnBW
Neckarwestheim 2 PWR1395MW 1989 100% EnBW
Philippsburg 1 BWR 926 MW 1979 100% EnBW
Philippsburg 2 BWR 1458MW 1984 100% EnBW
Unterwesser PWR 1345MW 1979 100% Eon

Ganging-up against the phase-out

Germany’s nuclear utilities appear to be ganging up against the German nuclear phase-out law. In March 2007 RWE Group was reported to be planning to sue the Government after it was refused permission to transfer the right to generate kilowatt-hours from the closed Muelheim-Kaerlich PWR to extend the lifetime of its Biblis-A PWR beyond 2008. Now Vattenfall has applied for permission to do the same from its share of Muelheim-Kaerlich to the Brunsbuettel BWR. The nuclear regulator has not yet decided on a separate application filed in 2006 by RWE Group to transfer kWh from its Emsland PWR to Biblis-A. But the request is not expected to be approved, because Emsland is RWE's newest reactor and Biblis-A its oldest. EnBW has also applied to transfer kWh from its newest reactors at Philippsburg or Neckarwestheim-2 to extend operation of Neckarwestheim-1. What the utilities are trying to do is to extend the life of reactors due to close soon beyond the anticipated date of the next federal election, expected in late 2009, in the hope that a government willing to scrap the nuclear phase-out is elected. [2]


  1. ^  Nuclear power in Germany, World Nuclear Association Information Paper, February 2007.
  2. ^  German utilities establishing basis for phase-out lawsuits, Nucleonics Week, Volume 48, Number 10, March 8, 2007