Huge Nuclear Tax for Germany?


"Potential 2.3bn nuclear tax. . .for nuclear operators to bear."

The German Ministry of Finance has envisaged an additional 2.3 billion (US$2.8 bn) per year 'windfall tax' on nuclear operators as part of the 2011 federal budget and its financial plan up to 2014.

The government justified the additional tax on the basis of the extra profits earned by the nuclear operators, following increased electricity prices as a result of the additional costs of carbon emissions in the sector borne by fossil fuel users.

According to the Ministry, the charge "will be necessary, as part of an overall energy concept, to prolong the operational life of nuclear power plants." At a time when Germany is looking for tens of billions of euros in budget savings, the ministry said that the money will be used to meet nuclear-decommissioning and final-repository costs.

German nuclear power plants are currently limited by a set of generation quotas that effectively limit reactor lives to an average of 34 years compared to an economic life of up to 60. This has been under review since the general election of September 2009 resulted in a coalition government free from anti-nuclear parties.

The German government concluded that changes to the phase-out, dubbed 'life extension', will require the nuclear operators to 'share' a relatively large proportion of the additional earnings derived from nuclear life extensions. The potential 2.3 billion nuclear tax is, thus, not being linked to changing the phase-out but positioned instead as a tax on nuclear fuel and, therefore, an additional cost for the nuclear operators to bear.

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