Germany’s ‘Grand Coalition’ Remains Committed To Energy Transition

By Lubomir Mitev
28 November 2013

Germany’s ‘Grand Coalition’ Remains Committed To Energy Transition
German chancellor Angela Merkel.

28 Nov (NucNet): The new German ‘grand coalition’ between Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) will remain committed to the nuclear phase-out and the energy transition, the coalition contract between the three parties says.

“No later than 2022, the last nuclear power plant in Germany will be shut down,” says the coalition contract.

The document says that Germany will continue to maintain the highest safety standards at every operational nuclear plant and will invest in new equipment and specialised personnel. It says radiological emergency planning for accidents in nuclear facilities will be adapted according to experiences from the March 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi accident.

Germany also wants to continue its participation in the international nuclear security debate. It will continue the funding of research institutions to maintain a sufficient level of expertise for the safety assessment of nuclear power plants and their decommissioning, radiation protection and nuclear waste disposal.

The German Atomic Forum told NucNet that there were a number of key issues discussed during coalition negotiations that had not found their way into the document. They include a public fund for decommissioning and waste management, a possible increase and prolongation of a controversial nuclear fuel tax, and the abolition of export loan guarantees connected to nuclear new build projects.

The nuclear fuel tax was introduced in March 2011, but was challenged by nuclear utilities. Earlier this month, a Hamburg court a Hamburg court said the tax might violate European law.

The court said it plans to ask the European Court of Justice to decide whether the tax conforms with rules that prohibit European Union member states from creating new taxes on electricity for “general budget financing purposes”.

On the issue of nuclear waste, the document specifies that the government will support the establishment of the Konrad repository and the closure of the Morsleben repository, as well as the retrieval of waste from the Asse II mine.

The former iron ore mine ‘Schacht Konrad’ was chosen as a site for storage of low- and medium-level radioactive waste in 2002. The facility was expected to start operation in 2013.

The Morsleben repository is a deep geological repository for radioactive waste, which was commissioned in 1965. In 1997, the decision was taken to decommission the facility and all waste already stored to be removed. Morsleben was set up by the government of the former East Germany and has not received any waste since 1998.

The Asse II site is a former salt mine used as a deep geological repository for radioactive waste. It was commissioned in 1967. In 2008, after a water inflow incident and brine contamination, the decision was taken to decommission the facility and remove the stored waste.

The government will also continue the implementation of a law, adopted in July 2013, for choosing a site for deep geological long-term storage of highly radioactive wastes.

The coalition contract will be voted on by a congress of the SPD in early December. A vote in favour will lead to the formation of a government on 17 December 2013.

The coalition contract is available online (in German only):

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