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Europe approves €24bn fund for radioactive waste management in Germany

Staff Writer | June 16, 2017
The European Commission has approved under EU state aid rules the transfer of radioactive waste liabilities to a new public fund in return for the payment of about €24.1 billion by nuclear power plant operators.
Germany radioactive waste
Nuclear energy   Germany has not yet decided on a location
The Commission concluded that the state support is proportionate to the objective.

Germany intends to transfer the liabilities relating to the management of radioactive waste and spent fuel from nuclear power plant operators to the German state.

To this end, a new public fund will be set up and the necessary funds secured in it.

In return for being released from their radioactive waste liabilities, nuclear power operators in Germany have to make a cash payment to the new public fund of about €24.1 billion.

This is made up of a basic amount equivalent to the provisions already set aside by the operators for this purpose and a risk premium aimed at covering the risk of cost increases in the future.

Under the EU Treaties, Member States are free to determine their energy mix and have the choice to invest in nuclear technology.

The Commission's role is to ensure that when public funds are used to support companies, this is done in line with EU state aid rules, which aim to preserve competition in the Single Market.

The Commission's assessment concluded that Germany's decision to take over the radioactive waste management liability involves state aid.

This is because the total cost of radioactive waste management is subject to significant uncertainty and the planned payment of about €24.1 billion does not protect Germany fully from the impact of such cost overruns.

While the amount to be placed in the new public fund is based on the best cost estimates currently available, these calculations are highly uncertain for a number of reasons.

Most importantly, Germany has not yet decided on a location for the final repository for radioactive waste and there are no comparable cost benchmarks for building this kind of facility.