Nuclear Power: Towards Phase-Out with Unresolved Questions of Storage of Nuclear Waste

Press Release of March 26, 2014

Three years after the nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima one observes a certain momentum with regard to lifetime extensions as well as some interest in new building of nuclear power plants. Advocates of nuclear power argue in term of low-cost electricity generation, a secure supply as well as a contribution against climate change. The Reference Scenario of the European Commission - which sets the agenda on the EU Climate and Energy Strategy to 2030 - implies massive new buildings of nuclear power plants, not less than seven are forecasted for Poland alone. In Germany, too, voices are re-appearing that criticize the upcoming nuclear phase-out. However, DIW Berlin clearly derives that there is no "Renaissance" of nuclear power under way: the plans to construct new plants are concentrated in a few countries, mainly China. But foremost, the discussion neglects that nuclear power has never in history been produced economically, taking into account the costs of risks for mankind and the environment, the scrapping of nuclear waste, let alone the infrastructure of R & D and the corresponding national innovation system. The question where to store the highly radioactive waste is of yet unresolved. Phasing out nuclear is the safest and cost efficient strategy. The European discussion should not focus on analytical models that neglect a large part of the economic cost. Germany can continue its nuclear phase-out until 2022, without risking the supply security; this also holds for the upcoming closure of the Grafenrheinfeld nuclear power plant in 2015. Questions of scrapping old nuclear power plants and of long-term storage of radioactive waste have been ignored for a long time, they need to be addressed urgently now.