Oeko-Institut recommends stepwise phase-out of nuclear power in Germany


On 29 May 2011 the German coalition government agreed to a model for the phase-out of nuclear power plants in Germany. According to an analysis conducted by Oeko-Institut on behalf of WWF Germany, this means that the remaining nuclear power plants in operation will be decommissioned almost simultaneously in 2020/2021. This could jeopardise the well-organised phase-out of nuclear power in Germany. Oeko-Institut therefore proposes an alternative model which enables a stepwise phase-out of nuclear power.

Transference of remaining electricity budget
Alongside setting an end date for the phase-out of nuclear power in Germany, it is also essential to take measures in the coming years to incentivise investments in substitute capacities of electricity production in the medium term.

If, however, the remaining electricity production budgets of the older nuclear power plants and the plant at Mühlheim-Kärlich (in Rhineland-Palatinate), which have already been decommissioned, and the plant at Krümmel (in Schleswig-Holstein), which has already been shutdown, are transferred to the remaining nine nuclear power plants, all nine plants could be kept running until 2020/2021. As a result almost all plants that remain in operation – with a capacity of 10,800 MW overall - would have to be removed from the grid within a 12 month period only.
With high probability this would bring about substantial problems for the grid and the power industry and jeopardise the German phase-out deadline of 2021. It can entail an investment restraint of operators in new power plants.

Oeko-Institut’s optimised phase-out model
An alternative phase-out model, which Oeko-Institut analysed on behalf of WWF Germany, assumes the lifetime of a nuclear power plant to be 30 years instead of the original 32 years. The remaining electricity budget is thereby reduced by 35 percent, without causing any legal issues.

Furthermore, according to this alternative model, nuclear power plant operators could be given the opportunity to transfer – alongside the production budgets of the Mülheim-Kärlich and Krümmel plants – additional production budgets to increase flexibility (and guarantee security of supply and network stability) between the different nuclear power plants.
Only in this way can Germany effectively function as a role model for a well-organised strategy for the phase-out of nuclear power and the phase-in of alternatives which is carefully embedded in the power industry at hand.

Further information can be found in the short study “Analysis and classification of the model for the accelerated phase-out of German nuclear power plants” [available in German only] conducted by Oeko-Institut on behalf of WWF Germany.


Dr. Felix C. Matthes
Research Coordinator Energy and Climate Policy
Oeko-Institut e.V., Berlin office
Tel: ++49 (0)30-405085-381