Another court ruling has found against the German government for decisions made, which had a detrimental effect on the country’s nuclear industry.

Germany should immediately refund some $3bn (€2.2bn) in nuclear fuel taxes collected from EOn and RWE, pending final decisions on the tax from either the Federal Constitutional Court or the European Court of Justice.
Biblis NPP
The latest ruling in the court battle over nuclear fuel taxes in Germany came from the Hamburg Tax Court, underlining successive decisions since power plant operators were required to pay €145 ($200) per gram of uranium or plutonium loaded into power reactors. The tax is intended to take about half of the profit from the nuclear power plants.

World Nuclear News reports that the tax arrangement had been agreed between utilities and the government in 2010 as an amendment to the 2002 Atomic Energy Act that would allow longer operating lives for German reactors. But the government reneged on the deal in reaction to the 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan by taking away the longer lives and forcing closures of older units – all while keeping the tax.

In yesterday’s ruling, the Hamburg Tax Court agreed with the utilities that they should be relieved from paying the tax, and should be refunded some $3bn until the tax’s legality is finally decided.

Dr Jonathan Cobb, Spokesperson for the World Nuclear Association told Power Engineering International, “Although the legal process is likely to be drawn out, this decision goes some way to correcting part of what has been an ill-judged change to German energy policy, one that has led to rising emissions and higher prices.”

Two courts have the power to end the matter. The Federal Constitutional Court may decide that the tax is unconstitutional due to being aimed at reducing profit rather than reducing consumption; or the European Court of Justice (ECJ) could rule the tax as being against EU legislation because it applies to an input of electricity generation, not the output product, as taxes across the 28 nation bloc should uniformly do. A ruling from either of the courts would settle the matter, although final judgements are not expected for several months at least.

In parallel with contesting the tax, RWE is also claiming damages from the losses incurred as a result of the forced closure of its Biblis nuclear power plant in 2011. Meanwhile Vattenfall of Sweden is fighting the shutdowns of two German reactors in which it has stakes via international arbitration.

For more nuclear power news