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article imageGerman phaseout of nuclear power plants triggers lawsuits

By Karen Graham     Nov 5, 2014 in World
After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, Germany made the decision to shut down the country's oldest nuclear plants and phaseout remaining plants by 2022. At the same time, renewable energy sources, like wind, solar and biomass would be encouraged.
Today, nuclear energy supplies only 15 percent of Germany's electricity. Since 2011, the government has been pushing to have renewables supplying 80 percent of electrical power by 2050. They have made quick progress on boosting renewables. In 2003, renewables accounted for only eight percent of Germany's electrical power, and 10 years later, the figure has jumped to 23 percent.
While Germany's nuclear power phaseout seems to be going along fairly well, there have been some bumps in the road. The very latest problems have been brought about by three of the four largest power companies, EON, RWE and Vattenfall. Over 20 lawsuits have been filed demanding billions in Euros for compensation, allegedly the result of the phaseout of nuclear power.
Germany's fourth largest power company, and the only one so far, to not file a lawsuit, is EnBW. But the reason for this may be because it is partially owned by Baden-Wuerttemberg, one of Germany's southwestern states under the Greens party rule.
A total of 14 complaints has been filed against the national government, including nine complaints that will go before Germany's top Constitutional Court. Another seven complaints have been filed against state governments.
According to the Nuclear Power Daily, a paper requested by Greens party lawmaker Silvia Kotting-Uhl detailing the final bill should the lawsuits succeed, said the lawsuits could amount to billions of Euros. The biggest claim comes from Vattenfall and amounts to $4.7 billion euros ($5.8 billion).
Berlin will also have to contend with other lawsuits, including power plant sites and nuclear waste storage, and there have also been papers filed for access to legal documents. At this time, it is unclear how the lawsuits will be resolved or whether Germany will succeed in its phaseout of nuclear power plants on schedule.
More about Germany, nuclear power phaseout, power companies, Renewable energy, affordability
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