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Operating times of German nuclear power plants

Nuclear power plant Emsland Nuclear power plant EmslandNuclear power plant Emsland

The Atomic Energy Act states that the authorisation for power operation for the last nuclear power plants in Germany will expire at the end of 2022. The end of operating times of the currently operating nuclear power plants are stated as follows:

  • 31 December 2017: Nuclear power plant Gundremmingen B
  • 31 December 2019: Nuclear power plant Philippsburg 2
  • 31 December 2021: Nuclear power plants Grohnde, Gundremmingen C and Brokdorf
  • 31 December 2022: Nuclear power plants Isar 2, Emsland and Neckarwestheim 2.

The end of operating times for the nuclear power plant Grafenrheinfeld was stated as 31 December 2015. It was finally shut down on 27 June 2015.

Fixing of operating times in response to the reactor accident at Fukushima 2011

Due to the reactor accident in Fukushima Daiichi, Japan, on 11 March 2011, the Federal Government decided on 14 March 2011 to shut down all German nuclear power plants that had been commissioned until and including 1980. This affected the nuclear power plants (NPPs) Biblis A, Neckarwestheim 1, Biblis B, Brunsbüttel, Isar 1, Unterweser and Philippsburg 1. The Krümmel nuclear power plant had already been shut down at this point in time.

For these eight shut-down NPPs and the nine NPPs still in operation at that point of time the Reactor Safety Commission (Reaktor-Sicherheitskommission - RSK) conducted a safety check (assessment of robustness). The results and the cross-social dialogue with the participation of the Ethics Commission for a Safe Energy Supply led to a re-evaluation of the risks associated with using nuclear energy in Germany.

The Federal Government decided to end the use of nuclear energy for commercial electricity generation in Germany as soon as possible. As a result the Atomic Energy Act was amended and became effective on 6 August 2011. Thereby the authorisation for power operation expired at this point in time for the eight already shut-down NPPs:

  • Biblis A,
  • Biblis B,
  • Brunsbüttel,
  • Isar 1,
  • Krümmel,
  • Neckarwestheim 1,
  • Philippsburg 1 and
  • Unterweser.

Annual announcement 2016Annual announcement 2016 - please click on the picture to view the produced, transferred and remaining electricity volumes as pdf-document (only in German).

Electricity volumes of German nuclear power plants

In addition to a concrete shut-down date the Atomic Energy Act defines an electricity volume for each NPP. Once this electricity volume has been produced, the authorisation for operating the plant will expire. Reference date is the 1 January 2000. The electricity volumes (previously referred to as residual electricity volumes, see also column 2 of the table, in German) are listed in column 2 of annex 3 to § 7 paragraph 1a of the Atomic Energy Act. According to the Atomic Energy Act there is the option to transfer electricity volumes from one NPP to another.

Transfer of electricity volumes

Electricity volumes may be transferred partially or in total from one – usually older and smaller – nuclear power plant to another. Another option is to transfer the remaining electricity volumes of the nuclear power plants shut down on 6 August 2011 according to the Atomic Energy Act.

According to the Atomic Energy Act any transfer from a newer onto an older NPP requires the approval by the competent Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (today: Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety - BMUB) in agreement with the Federal Chancellery and the Ministry of Economics and Technology (today: Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy). Transfers of electricity volumes need to be reported to the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BfE) and are taken into account when registering the electricity volumes.

On 27 January 2017, electricity volumes were transferred to the Gundremmingen NPP unit B and C. To each unit 8.0 TWh were transferred. The transferred electricity volumes for Gundremmingen NPP unit B are composed of

  • 6.0 TWh of the contingent of Biblis NPP unit B, and
  • 2.0 TWh of the contingent of Unterweser NPP.

To Gundremmingen NPP unit C the following electricity volumes were transferred:

  • 2,0 TWh of the contingent of Unterweser NPP,
  • 2,194 TWh of the contingent of Biblis NPP unit A,
  • 1,822 TWh of the contingent of Biblis NPP unit B, and
  • 1,983 TWh of the contingent of Mülheim-Kärlich NPP.

Tasks of the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BfE)

The Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BfE) registers and documents the net electricity volumes produced in the German nuclear power plants and the electricity volumes remaining according to § 23 para. 1 no. 9 Atomic Energy Act.

The utilities

  • measure the produced net electricity,
  • report the data to the BfE on a monthly basis,
  • induce that the measuring devices are tested by an independent expert organisation and the reported electricity volumes are certified by a public accountant.

The functional inspection reports and the certificates by the public accountant are submitted to the BfE.

Publication of electricity volumes

The BfE publishes the

  • produced,
  • transferred and
  • remaining

electricity volumes according to Atomic Energy Act in the Bundesanzeiger (Federal Law Gazette). The announcement is published at least annually. The annual report of the announcement of the electricity volumes on 31 December 2016 was published on 31 March 2017 in the Federal Law Gazette (BAnz AT 31.03.2017 B10, German only).

Should an operating time of less than six months be expected due to the residual electricity volumes, the announcement is published monthly. Since July 2017 the expected residual operating time of the nuclear power plants Gundremmingen unit B and unit C is less than six months. Therefore, BfE publishes the residual electricity volumes monthly. The table (in German only) shows the status of the electricity volumes on 31 August 2017 as published on 25 October 2017 in the Federal Law Gazette (BAnz AT 25.10.2017 B8).

Fixing of the electricity volumes

As early as in June 2001 the Federal Government and the utilities agreed upon a certain electricity volume for each nuclear power plant which the respective plant is authorised to produce from 1 January 2000 (so-called "Konsensvereinbarung"). This corresponds to an operating time of approximately 32 years for each nuclear power plant and was laid down in the Atomic Energy Act in April 2002.

In 2010, the Federal Government decided to extend the operating times of those nuclear power plants that had taken up power operation until and including 1980 by 8 years or, respectively, the operating times of the younger nuclear power plants by 14 years. Correspondingly, the Atomic Energy Act as amended in December 2010 allocated additional electricity volumes to individual nuclear power plants.

Due to the reactor accident in Fukushima Daiichi, Japan, on 11 March 2011, the Federal Government decided to end the use of nuclear energy for commercial electricity generation as soon as possible. As a result, the Atomic Energy Act was again amended in August 2011. It does again contain exclusively the electricity volumes for each individual nuclear power plant that had already been set out in the previous version of the Atomic Energy Act of April 2002. The extension of operating times laid down in December 2010 was withdrawn and the additional electricity volumes were cancelled.

State of 2017.10.25

© Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management