German energy company EnBW said the coronavirus outbreak has impacted plans to dismantle its Philippsburg nuclear power plant in Baden-Wurttemberg, southwest Germany.
The controlled detonation of Phillipsburg's cooling towers will now take place in mid-May at the earliest.
However, EnBW said the exact demolition date depends on many factors - including the further development in the coronavirus pandemic.
Philippsburg 2, a 1402MWe pressurised water reactor unit permanently shut down on 31 December 2019.
At the end of 2019, the Ministry of the Environment gave basic approval for decommissioning and dismantling of unit 2 of the Philippsburg nuclear power plant, inluding explosive demolition of the colling towers. Since then EnBW has worked intensively on getting all the necessary formal steps on the way and performing technical and logistical preparatory work.
“The demolition of the cooling towers is directly related to future security of supply in southern Germany. We therefore feel obliged to drive this project forward," said Jörg Michels head of the EnBW nuclear power division.
The timely removal of the cooling towers is important as the area currently occupied by nuclear plant components is needed for a transformer station for long-distance power lines. These will transport electricity from renewable sources in the north to industrial centres in the south.
As of early 2020, there six nuclear reactors in operation in Germany. According to research institute Fraunhofer ISE, nuclear power provided about 14% of Germany's net electricity in 2019, less than half of the figure for 2000.
Photo: The Phillipsburg nuclear power plant in Germany (Credit: EnBW)