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German Nuclear Phase-Out Enters the Next Stage: Electricity Supply Remains Secure - Major Challenges and High Costs for Dismantling and Final Waste Disposal

DIW Weekly Report 22/23 / 2015, S. 293-301

Christian von Hirschhausen, Clemens Gerbaulet, Claudia Kemfert, Felix Reitz, Cornelia Ziehm

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The June 2015 shutdown of the Grafenrheinfeld nuclear power plant marks the shift into a new phase of the energy transition, in which all nuclear power plants in Germany will gradually be shut down by 2022. But even with the end of the commercial use of nuclear power, the lights in this country will not go out: As DIW Berlin’s calculations attest to, the electricity supply in Germany remains secure. It is even assumed that Germany will still export electricity in 2025. However, the real challenges - the dismantling of the nuclear power plants and the disposal of nuclear waste - have yet to come: The final disposal of the highly radioactive waste in a (yet-to-be-determined) repository will continue, in all likelihood, into the 22nd century. For the dismantling and final disposal, the estimated costs - which, so far, are not very reliable - are expected to be at least 50 to 70 billion EUR. As such, the 38 billion EUR of provisions set up by the nuclear power plant operators are unlikely to be sufficient to cover the expected costs. Given the major financial risks, DIW Berlin recommends that the provisions set up by the nuclear companies be promptly transferred into a public-law fund. For costs that go beyond the framework covered by the provisions, a reserve liability should be established.

Claudia Kemfert

Head of Department in the Energy, Transportation, Environment Department

JEL-Classification: L51;L94
Keywords: Nuclear power, Energiewende, nuclear waste disposal
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