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RWE Does Not Want To Continue Operating Nuclear Power Plants - Renewable Energies More Economically Attractive

Münster, Germany - In view of high electricity and gas prices, media calls for the continued operation of nuclear power plants are getting louder and louder. But the electricity suppliers are waving it off, having long since made other plans and changed their business model.

Despite the rapid rise in energy prices, energy supplier RWE clearly ruled out a revival of nuclear power in an interview with Börsenzeitung. And even in countries with nuclear power plants such as France, nuclear power plants do not protect against the current high electricity prices, quite the opposite.

RWE no longer relies on nuclear power plants - growth with renewables

The transformation of the energy industry in the electricity sector in the direction of renewable energies is becoming increasingly apparent and real. Just a few years ago, the following sentence by RWE CFO Michael Müller in an interview with the Börsenzeitung (Oct. 16, 2021) would have been completely unthinkable: "It is economically more attractive to invest in renewables than in nuclear power." In the tenders issued by the German Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) since 2018, the EEG compensation rates for wind power electricity have been around 6 ct/kWh, and for solar power around 5 ct/kWh.

RWE is currently in the midst of its transformation from a fossil-nuclear power supplier to a green power provider. Nuclear power plants no longer fit into the portfolio. In Germany, six nuclear power plants are currently still in operation. At the end of 2021, the three nuclear power plants Grohnde (1,430 MW), Gundremmingen C (1,344 MW) and Brokdorf (1,480 MW), with a total of around 4,300 MW, will finally be taken off the grid.

Exchange electricity prices in France significantly higher than in Germany despite nuclear power plants

France has a nuclear power fleet with a total capacity of around 62,000 MW, of which nuclear power plants with a capacity of around 40,000 MW are currently connected to the grid. The fact that a large number of nuclear power plants does not protect against high electricity prices is shown by the current exchange electricity prices in European countries. On Thursday (Oct. 21, 2021), electricity on a daily basis on the spot market at the noon auction for delivery on Friday (Oct. 22, 2021) had to pay just under 21 ct/kWh in France, 16.1 ct in Belgium, 15.1 ct in the Netherlands, 22.7 ct in Switzerland and only 7.2 ct per kWh in Germany. This meant that exchange electricity was almost three times as expensive in France compared to Germany.

"Above all, the current high wind power production has put pressure on electricity prices and resulted in German exchange electricity prices being more than 50 percent lower than in France," said IWR Director Dr. Norbert Allnoch in Münster.

Construction of nuclear power plants only by state-owned companies

In view of the billions of euros invested in the construction of new nuclear power plants, there are considerable financing risks. In addition to the high construction costs and the long project duration of more than 10 years, the market risks are also enormous, as electricity prices are hardly or not at all calculable over the long-term planning and operating period. Allnoch: "In most cases, the construction cost and market risks end up being borne by the taxpayer, which is why new nuclear power plants will in future - if at all - largely only be built and operated by state-owned companies."

Source: IWR Online, 25 Oct 2021