Will Australia develop nuclear power?
After the reactor disaster in Fukushima in 2011, the federal government further developed the energy concept and accelerated the phase-out of nuclear power. One nuclear power plant after the other is now going offline, most recently the Philippsburg 2 nuclear power plant at the end of 2019. The Grohnde, Gundremmingen C and Brokdorf nuclear power plants will go offline by the end of 2021. The three youngest systems Isar 2, Emsland and Neckarwestheim 2 will be shut down by the end of 2022 at the latest.
Are you running out of energy?
Ten power plants less, but the energy supply remains secure. The Federal Network Agency is tasked with preventing bottlenecks and taking all necessary measures to ensure network stability. The past winters show that this precaution is taking effect.
How safe is nuclear power?
Germany is one of the countries with the highest safety standards for nuclear facilities. Nevertheless, with the amendment to the Atomic Energy Act 2011, the federal government has further increased the requirements, for example for the cooling systems. The standard is the state of science and technology. The operators are now working out retrofitting programs for their plants with the nuclear supervisory authorities of the federal states and are implementing them step by step.
Who pays for the exit?
The power plant operators bear the costs for the dismantling and disposal of radioactive waste. You set up provisions for this. In 2016, the commission to review the financing of the nuclear phase-out, KFK, presented recommendations on how to proceed. Their recommendations are intended to ensure the financing of decommissioning, dismantling and disposal. To do this, companies must also be economically in a position to meet their obligations in the long term.
In June 2016, the Federal Cabinet decided to implement these recommendations. The corresponding "Act on the Reorganization of Responsibility in Nuclear Waste Management" finally came into force in June 2017. It provides for the federal government to assume responsibility for the interim and final storage of nuclear waste in the future. The costs for this are covered by a fund into which the nuclear power plant operators were legally obliged as of July 1, 2017 to pay a total of 17.4 billion euros. The reactor operators will then continue to be responsible for the decommissioning, dismantling of the nuclear facilities and the professional packaging of radioactive waste.
Where does the uranium for German nuclear power plants come from?
The uranium required in German nuclear power plants comes from abroad: from countries such as France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Sweden, Spain, the USA, Canada, Russia and China. The origin of the material is understood to mean the country in which the last conversion step in the processing of the uranium was carried out. In order to be able to use uranium as a nuclear fuel, essential domestic and intra-European production stages are necessary. The Euratom Treaty and the bilateral agreements between the European Atomic Energy Community and various third countries (e.g. Australia, Canada, South Africa) form the legal framework for uranium imports into the EU.
What happens to the nuclear waste?
Those who use nuclear energy also have to worry about the storage of radioactive waste. Those with negligible heat generation will be stored in the Konrad repository (north of Salzgitter) from 2019. Konrad Shaft was originally an iron ore mine and has been converted into a repository since May 2007. A suitable storage location is still being sought for heat-generating radioactive waste. The heat-generating radioactive waste primarily includes spent fuel elements and highly radioactive liquid waste (fission product solutions) from reprocessing. Cleaning rags, disused tools and system parts, used filters or residues from wastewater treatment, on the other hand, are considered wastes with negligible heat generation.
How does Germany find a safe repository?
In March 2010, the federal government lifted the moratorium on the search for a repository and decided to continue exploring the Gorleben salt dome without any results. With the energy concept of June 6, 2011, the decision was made to develop a new method for finding a location based on geological criteria. The federal and state governments work together to achieve this. The corresponding location selection law came into force in July 2013.
The "Commission for the Storage of Highly Radioactive Waste Materials" set up by the Bundestag in 2014 presented its report in 2016. Their proposals and recommendations for action were implemented in the "Law on the Further Development of the Site Selection Act", which came into force in May 2017. The aim of the law is an open, science-based and transparent search for a repository site based on the "white map" principle. This means that no region is excluded from the outset. The plan is to complete this process by 2031. From 2050, the nuclear waste is to be stored at the final location.
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