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 produced by them, including the cost of final storage.

The Act Reorganising Responsibility for Nuclear Waste Management (317 KB, in German) entered into force on 16 June 2017, following its approval by the European Commission under state-aid rules. The Act had been adopted by the Bundestag and Bundesrat in December 2016. 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 assigns the respective responsibilities around nuclear disposal and provides for secure, long-term financing for the decommissioning and dismantling of nuclear power plants and the disposal of nuclear waste, without either shifting the costs on to taxpayers or jeopardising operators’ business.

In other words, this piece of legislation ensures that the operators of nuclear power plants will continue to be in charge of managing and financing all activities linked to the decommissioning and dismantling of the installations, and to the correct packaging of nuclear waste (dismantling obligations).In contrast, it is the Federal Government that will be responsible for organising and financing interim and final storage. On 1 July 2017, the funds to cover the costs for interim and final storage, which amount to €24.1 billion, were transferred by the operators into the fund administered by the Federal Government.

On 26 June 2017, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the executive directors of the energy companies signed an agreement under public law in recognition of the new division of responsibilities as assigned under the new legislation. This agreement has delivered legal certainty for both the Federal Government and the energy companies. It also puts an end to the many legal disputes that have been fought around the subject of nuclear-waste disposal and the phase-out of nuclear energy. You can find the text of the agreement here (PDF: 4 MB, in German).

The board – which is charged with establishing and supervising the foundation – convened for the first time on 19 June 2017 and took various important decisions of an organisational nature. Click here (PDF, 72 KB) for more detailed information on the division of responsibilities around the nuclear phase-out.

The Act is to implement the recommendations made by the Commission to Review the Financing for the phase-out of nuclear energy. This means that, for the first time, the responsibilities for organising and financing the disposal of nuclear waste will be brought together. The Commission (PDF: 1.18 MB, in German) was set up by the Federal Government 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 completed this task by presenting its unanimous recommendations for action in a report to the Nuclear Energy State Secretaries Committee. You can find the Commission's recommendations in the final report (PDF: 969 KB, in German).

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.

Report in accordance with Section 7 of the Transparency Act – dismantling of nuclear power plants

Each year on 30 November, the Federal Government submits a report to the German Bundestag on the financial provisions made by operators of nuclear power plants to fulfil their obligations related to the decommissioning and dismantling of plants and packaging of nuclear waste. The Bundestag has published the report (in German).

The report contains a summary of the assessment of the information provided by the nuclear power plant operators to the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA) in the context of the reporting requirements pursuant to Section 1 of the Transparency Act. Operators are obliged to report each year to the BAFA on the provisions made to fulfil their obligations related to the dismantling of plants and on the liquid funds available for this purpose.

The information provided by operators is verified by the BAFA. The report is based on the results of this verification. In the report for 2018, the BAFA again drew the positive conclusion that there are no grounds for objection regarding the calculation of the amount of the provisions made by the companies and that there are no indications to suggest that the companies might not meet the requirements related to the dismantling of plants.