Berlin/Karlsruhe. Today, EnBW Kernkraft GmbH (EnKK) submitted an application to the German Ministry of the Environment for the transfer of residual electricity volumes to the nuclear power plant Neckarwestheim I (GKN I). The application requests transfer of a total of 46.9 terawatt hours (46.9 billion kilowatt hours) from the residual electricity quota of the nuclear power plant Neckarwestheim II (GKN II). The transfer of this volume of electricity would result in a projected extension of the operating time of GKN I by about eight years, and is thus anticipated to be up to the year 2017. The transfer of these residual electricity volumes would simultaneously reduce the projected operating time of the transferring nuclear power plant GKN II by approx. 5 years, meaning it would be anticipated to also be in operation until the year 2017. With this application, EnKK is exercising its explicitly recognised right under the German Atomic Energy Act to apply for the transfer of electricity volume quotas from one power plant to another.
EnBW CEO Prof. Dr. Utz Claassen:"This is not about election tactics. Our aim is to exploit synergistic potential in the areas of safety and cost efficiency. We are therefore submitting a strong application of real substance. Our strategy is geared towards international standards and is naturally in full compliance with the wording and the objectives of the German Atomic Energy Act. Today we submit an application that increases safety in a sustainable way, improves economic feasibility, results in reduced prices, boosts the safety of our energy supply and substantially contributes to the protection of the climate. In this way we serve the interests of our customers as well as our environment.”
The requested electricity volume transfer would ensure that the current setup comprising a double-unit facility at the Neckarwestheim location remains in place for as long as possible and would allow exploitation of the resulting synergies to the fullest possible extent to the benefit of operational safety and cost efficiency – across the full spectrum of operating phases. Simultaneous discontinuation of generating activity at GKN I and GKN II has the added advantage that GKN II would not have to be operated in isolation and subsequently be the last nuclear power plant in Germany to be decommissioned. This would also improve options on the procurement market as well as economic feasibility during the post-operational, closure and dismantling phase.
In addition, the operation of the twin-unit facility is particularly advantageous from the point of view of safety. The deployment of the same personnel in both units ensures the accumulation, retention and feedback of experience and expertise, thereby optimising maintenance and operational procedures. For the region itself, this step would secure more than 400 jobs at the Neckarwestheim location in the long term and at the same time help to maintain a strong regional economy. Through this transfer, the state of Baden-Württemberg would secure safe and reliable energy supplies with low CO2 emissions throughout the region, and the Federal Republic secures an internationally competitive energy supply.
The German Atomic Energy Act expressly provides for the transfer of electricity volume quotas from one power plant to another. The application submitted by EnKK therefore follows the logic and spirit of the law to its full extent. The approval of this application will not result in the generation of a single additional kilowatt hour of electricity. In the view of EnBW’s legal counsel the legal situation is so unambiguous that the Federal Ministry of the Environment has to approve the application. "We attach importance to pointing out that the application for transfer of residual electricity volumes relates only to the redistribution of residual electricity volumes and not to an overall extension in operating time. An extended operating lifetime can only be permitted by the legislator based on an amendment to the German Atomic Energy Act," Dr Hans-Josef Zimmer, chairman of the management board of the EnBW Kernkraft GmbH, emphasises.
If, nevertheless, this application should stimulate the public debate on the role of nuclear power in the energy mix of the future, EnBW would certainly welcome such a development. This should take into account the background that Federal Minister for the Environment Gabriel, with a view to international climate protection, only recently formulated the goal himself that Germany should, by 2020, reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below the level of 1990 – instead of as previously planned by 30 percent. "In view of the acute threat of a climate catastrophe, there should no longer be any taboos", is the opinion of Prof. Dr. Utz Claassen. "We need a modernisation of the nuclear power consensus with which the way for longer operating times accompanied by all the necessary safety-related steps is opened, as this will provide us with a time window, a money window and a research and development window to push ahead with the development of improved renewable technologies and suitable storage technologies for a resource-sparing and emission-free future. We would be making a serious error if, by closing down nuclear power stations prematurely, fossil fuel electricity generation structures would be cemented in place for decades to come."