The nuclear power plants in Germany are to be shut down by the end of 2022 and dismantled. Under the Atomic Energy Act and in line with the polluter-pays principle, it is the operators of nuclear power plants (NPPs) that must pay for the shut-down and dismantling of the NPPs, and for the management of the nuclear waste, including the cost of final storage.

In December 2016, the Bundestag and the Bundesrat adopted the Act Reorganising Responsibility for Nuclear Waste Management. The Act entered into force on 16 June 2017 following its approval under state aid rules by the European Commission. At the same time, a fund for the financing of nuclear waste disposal (fund), which is organised as a foundation under public law, was established.

The Act stipulates the responsibility for nuclear waste management and ensures the long-term financing of shut-down, dismantling and disposal without passing the related costs on to the tax payers alone or jeopardising the economic situation of the operators.

It ensures that the responsibility for the management and financing of the shut-down and dismantling of NPPs and of packaging the nuclear waste will continue to lie entirely with the NPP operators. However, responsibility for the management and financing of interim and final storage will now reside with the German government. The funds for interim and final storage, estimated at up to 24 billion euros, will be provided by the operators and paid into the fund by 1 July 2017. The board – which is charged with establishing and supervising the foundation – was set up on 19 June 2016 and has made several organisational decisions. Details about the reorganisation of responsibility can be found here.

The Act is to implement the recommendations made by the Commission to Review the Financing for the Phase-out of Nuclear Energy and to regulate the responsibility for the financing of the disposal of nuclear waste. The Federal Cabinet had set up the Commission on 14 October 2015. This expert commission was to draw up recommendations as to how to organise the financing for the shut-down and dismantling of nuclear power plants and for the management of nuclear waste in such a way that companies will be capable of meeting their long-term obligations under nuclear law. On 27 April 2016, the Commission presented its unanimous recommendations for action in a report to the Nuclear Energy State Secretaries Committee and concluded its work. You can find the Commission's recommendations in the final report.

Expert report assessing the provisions made in the nuclear-power sector ('stress test')

The expert report assessing the provisions made in the nuclear-power sector ("stress test"), which was commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy on 10 October 2015, served as a major basis for the Commission's work. According to the report, the energy companies are capable of bearing the cost of dismantling the nuclear power plants and disposing of the nuclear waste. The provisions made for these purposes by the companies concerned totalling €38.3 billion are based on estimated costs in current prices amounting to around €47.5 billion. The experts have confirmed that the estimated costs are plausible and complete and that the provisions had been correctly incorporated into companies' balance sheets.
The German government had also commissioned a comprehensive study into the legal aspects of the provisions made in the nuclear-power sector and the related need for reform.