a "bad bank" to transfer the biggest risk: nuclear power plants...
From Der Speigel
Fearing astronomical cost overruns, German utility companies want to shift responsibility for dismantling nuclear power plants to the government. Despite the billions of euros in risks it entails, the proposal could still prove attractive for Berlin.
Germany's latest problem weighs 275,000 tons. That's the cumulative weight of the steel and cement scrap that will come out of the dismantling of the Obrigheim nuclear power plant, which is located in the town of the same name in the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg. That scrap includes pipelines, plant sections, turbines, generators and the reactor pressure vessel. It also includes 10,000 tons of potentially radioactive material that will have to be submerged in an ultrasonic bath or processed with a sandblaster to reduce its radioactivity. The most dangerous work will be conducted by remote-controlled robots.
The demolition of a nuclear power plant is a technically complicated undertaking that can take between 15 and 20 years to complete. In the case of Obrigheim, dismantling the power plant will cost energy utility company EnBW, which owns the facility, an estimated €500 million ($684 million). Compared to other plants in Germany, this pressurized-water reactor is relatively small. The dismantling of larger plants like Gundremmingen B or Isar 2 in the state of Bavaria are estimated to cost as much as €1 billion each.Most Germans have assumed that these costs will be picked up by the energy utility companies, which have gleaned billions of euros in profits from these plants. Besides, why should different rules apply to nuclear plant operators than to normal car owners, who have to pay to scrap their car when it's no longer fit for the road?But the heads of Germany's three major electric utility companies -- E.On CEO Johannes Teyssen, RWE chief Peter Terium and EnBW head Frank Mastiaux -- have come up with what they think is a brilliant plan to transfer the billions in risks related to dismantling nuclear plants. They want to punt responsibility to the state and taxpayers.
The energy executives are proposing the energy industry equivalent of a "bad bank" to transfer their biggest risk: nuclear power plants.
Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, German Chancellor Angela Merkel introduced her Energiewende, or energy turn-around, policy of phasing out all nuclear energy and shifting largely to renewable energies by 2022. After closing the plants, the next step is for them to be dismantled. Fearing significant risks inherent to that task, industry executives would like to transfer ownership of existing nuclear plants into a public trust that would operate the plants until their closure around eight years from now. The trust would be responsible for dismantling the plants, which is estimated to cost billions, and also for storing radioactive waste.