Nuclear industry experts say the estimated $46bn in reserves being set aside to assist in the decommissioning of German nuclear power plants will not be enough for the purpose.

All Germany’s nuclear power plants are intended to be offline by 2022 but dismantling the plants and safely taking care of the radioactive waste involved is expected to cost far more than originally thought.
The government officially lists nine nuclear plants as providing electricity for Germany‘s power grid. Eight additional reactors were already switched off in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan. There are also 16 power stations currently undergoing the long shut-down process. In total, there are at least 33 facilities that will need to be dismantled and whose contaminated scrap will have to be disposed of.

Deutsche Welle reports that aside from the costs involved, there is also the question of where to store the spent nuclear fuel. The federal government calculated in April 2013 that the selection of a site for this purpose over the next 15 years would cost $2.75bn alone.

Before the Fukushima incident, Germany’s nuclear operators were building reserves to finance the dismantling of their reactors. However, they were planning for the reactors to remain in operation for longer, leaving more time for the entire process.

The German Atomic Forum (DAtF) estimates that the reserves total around $46bn but energy experts say the true figure needs to be much higher.

The problem has been complicated by the fact that the $46bn in supposed reserves have mostly been invested. For example RWE has invested in plants in the Netherlands and in Great Britain.

Setting up a public fund is seen as one option for ensuring that money is available to decommission the remaining plants, but it’s a move that could bring further difficulties for the companies involved.

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