Germany’s nuclear and coal phase-out programmes both took a step towards their completion on the last day of 2021, when the country decommissioned several GW of nuclear and lignite capacity. The three nuclear reactors Grohnde, Gundremmingen C and Brokdorf, with a total capacity of just over 4 GW, were taken off the grid on 31 December. The three remaining reactors are due to be in operation until the end of 2022. These are Isar 2, Emsland and Neckarwestheim 2.

The end of 2021 also brought the shutdown of 300 MW lignite-fired units in the Rhenish lignite mining area, namely RWE’s Neurath B, Niederaussem C and Weisweiler E units, as part of Germany’s coal phase out. “This [together with the 1.3 GW Gundremmingen C NPP] represents a further step in our rigorous efforts to implement the legally mandated phase-out of nuclear power and coal,” commented RWE Power CEO Dr Frank Weigand.

In 2022, another 1600 MW of lignite power will be decommissioned. “In the period from 2020 to 2022, RWE is shutting down [conventional] power plants with a total capacity of more than 7000 MW” the company wrote in a press release, adding that it plans to invest €50 billion by 2030 in the expansion of renewables, batteries, storage, hydrogen and flexible backup capacities.

At RWE’s Gundremmingen nuclear reactor, around 440 out of 600 employees will stay for the post-operation and dismantling of the site. In the Rhineland mining area, around 3000 jobs will be cut along the entire process chain of mining, maintenance, administration and power generation, RWE said.