German Supreme court allows utility to sue German government for nuclear reactor shutdown and a separate Russian nuclear deal

1. The forced closure of RWE’s Biblis nuclear power plant after the Fukushima accident was unlawful, the German Supreme Administrative Court has ruled. The utility is now likely to sue for considerable damages.

Plant owner RWE can now sue for compensation over the loss of the Biblis units as an asset. The plant has two reactors, Biblis A and B, which are pressurized water reactors rated at 1167 MWe and 1240 MWe respectively and which had been licensed to operate until 2019 and 2021 just two months before the shutdown order. The company has previously said it suffered losses of over €1 billion ($1.3 billion) in 2011 alone due to the Biblis shutdown.

The same shutdown orders hit Germany’s other nuclear operators, EOn, Vattenfall and EnBW, although EnBW is 45% owned by the Green-governed state of Baden-Wurttemburg and is not contesting the shutdown or appealing a ruling that upheld the fuel tax. EOn and Vattenfall have doubts about the legality of the shutdown order, but have chosen not to pursue the matter in court, industry group Deutsches Atomforum told World Nuclear News. Instead the companies are contesting the constitutionality of the 2011 amendment to the Atomic Act which redrew operating periods for remaining reactors. Another set of questions on the fuel tax have now been referred by German courts to the European Court of Justice. Sweden-owned Vattenfall is contesting the shutdown via international arbitrartion.

2. Russia has agreed to build two new reactors in Hungary, supply their fuel and train staff for their operation. It has also agreed to provide a loan for construction of the units. The first new unit is to be commissioned in 2023.

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