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Mon August 03 2020

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Redundant nuclear cooling towers blown up [ - with video]

15 May German energy company EnBW has carried out controlled demolition of the two cooling towers at the Philippsburg nuclear plant in line with the country's move to renewable energy.

The demolition was initiated by targeted blasts in the lower area of ​​the towers. At around 6:05am, the cooling tower of the first power plant block collapsed as planned, followed only a few seconds later by the one for the second block.

EnBW had kept the exact timing of the demolition secret to avoid crowds being tempted to gather in defiance of protocols for preventing the spread of coronavirus. However, it has produced extensive photo and video material, which it has made freely available online, to enable to see what happened.

The demolition was monitored by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Environment and by independent specialists on behalf of the Ministry. The ‘drop direction blasting’ had already been implemented more than 50 times in Germany when demolishing cooling towers.

"We are very satisfied with the overall technical process,” said Jörg Michels, head of EnBW’s nuclear power division. “Thanks to our extensive planning and preparation work, we were able to ensure that demolition is safe and responsible.”

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Germany’s use of nuclear power is being phased out. Demolition of the cooling towers is seen by EnBW as an important milestone in Germany’s transition to renewable energy. TransnetBW will build a DC substation, also called a converter, on the site of where the cooling towers stood. The converter will be hub in the transmission network to bring electricity from renewable energies in the north for use in the south.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The area is expected to be handed over to TransnetBW by the beginning of next year. The demolition material will be examined in order to confirm its suitability for reuse on site.

“Originally there was no question that we would announce the date of the demolition and enable interested citizens of the region to watch the case of the cooling towers,” said Michels. “The coronavirus pandemic and the associated government regulations then forced us to completely change our approach."

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