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Heavy impact from post-Fukushima decision

11 Aug 2011

Up to 11,000 jobs are under threat as EOn moves to meet the challenges posed by Germany's new nuclear policy. Only yesterday another utility, RWE, announced the shutdowns had so far cost it €900 million ($1.3 billion).

Markets have now heard from all four of the utilities operating nuclear power plants in Germany. The other two, Vattenfall and EnBW, had already announced a write down of €1.1 billion ($1.6 billion) and a loss of 'over €600 million' ($850 million) respectively. Yesterday RWE added €900 million to this and EOn's €1.7 billion ($2.4 billion) has now pushed to total to exceed €4.3 billion ($6.0 billion) for the first reporting period alone.

It was on 15 March, just four days into the Fukushima accident, that Chancellor Angela Merkel asked the utilities to shut eight nuclear power reactors for a three month period. The government has since decided that none of these may restart, while remaining reactors will close in a sequence ending in 2022. The hope is to replace most of this lost generation capacity with an exponential scale-up of renewables, paid for with feed-in tarriffs as well as by a special tax on nuclear fuel.

The CEO of EOn, Johannes Teyssen, told shareholders of "sharply lower" profitability as a result, with income dropping by 71% and gross earnings by 45% compared to the first six months of 2010. "This dramatic deterioration of our earnings primarily reflects the German government's decisions regarding the phaseout of nuclear energy... This had an adverse effect of €1.7 billion ($2.4 billion) in the second quarter alone."

EnBW has already started proceedings concerning the nuclear fuel tax, which it was the first to pay when it refuelled the Philipsburg 2 reactor. Paying €145 ($205) to the government for every gram of uranium added up to "nine digits" - at least €100 million ($141 million). Sweden's state-owned Vattenfall has also said it expects full compensation for its costs.