Germany faces suits worth billions over nuclear phaseout


Germany’s phaseout of nuclear energy has triggered over 20 lawsuits by big power companies that have demanded billions of euros in damages, said a government paper released Tuesday.

After the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Berlin moved to immediately shutter the country’s eight oldest reactors and close all others by 2022 while boosting renewable energy such as wind, solar and biomass.

Three large electricity companies — EON, RWE and Vattenfall — have responded with a spate of court challenges, which the environment ministry has listed for the first time in response to a request by the Greens party.

In total, 14 complaints have been filed against the national government, including nine cases before the top Constitutional Court, and seven cases have been filed against state governments.

The likely final bill if the lawsuits succeed is unknown but would probably run into the billions, according to the paper, which was requested by Greens lawmaker Silvia Kotting-Uhl and made available to AFP on Tuesday.

The biggest known claim came from Swedish company Vattenfall, which has demanded €4.7 billion ($5.8 billion) compensation from the federal government.

Vattenfall launched its claim in 2012 before a Washington-based tribunal, the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

RWE has demanded €235 million ($290 million) in damages in a German court, and EON is suing for €386 million ($475 million), said the ministry.

The only one among the top four power companies in Germany that has not launched a major suit is EnBW, which is now part owned by Baden-Wuerttemberg, a southwestern state ruled by the Greens. EnBW has, however, joined lawsuits against a nuclear fuel rod tax, which would also be expected to run into the billions.

Other lawsuits, some over nuclear waste storage on power plant sites, have been launched against the states of Bavaria, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate and Schleswig-Holstein, the ministry said.

In other legal actions, companies are demanding access to official documents.

  • zer0_0zor0

    The state can probably use some form of “eminent domain” defense against these suits.

    • Bill_Woods

      ‘Eminent domain’ doesn’t get a state out of paying for the property it is taking.

      • zer0_0zor0

        True, so this poses some questions, but what exactly is it that qualifies as property in such a case?