German nuclear phase-out gets underway

First power station closure announced; operator cites low prices post-liberalisation

Germany's second oldest nuclear power station is to shut in 2003, its operator E.ON said on Monday. Stade power station near Hamburg will be the first nuclear facility to shut following this summer's landmark agreement on complete phase-out of nuclear power in Germany (ENDS Daily 15 June). The station will probably generate virtually all of the maximum 23.18 terawatt hours allotted to it under the phase-out deal by the time of its closure, industry sources told ENDS Daily, leaving a small remainder that E.ON will be allowed to transfer to other facilities.

Environment minister Jürgen Trittin yesterday welcomed the news, saying it was a direct consequence of the phase-out agreement and would increase public safety. Mr Trittin noted that new German wind power capacity installed in 1999 alone had exceeded that of Stade. He reiterated that nuclear closures and the attendant restructuring of the power sector would create jobs.

For E.ON, one of Germany's largest utilities, Stade's closure was to do with cost-cutting rather than the phase-out deal, following substantial falls in electricity prices since market liberalisation in 1998. The company said that its plan to shut a total of 4,800 megawatts of capacity would involve shedding 1,500 jobs and should boost operating profit by euros 716m (DM1.4bn) over the next ten years.

Follow Up:
E.ON, tel: +49 211 45790; {German environment ministry}, tel: +49 30 285 500.

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