Wednesday, February 6, 2013

UK's Centrica Will Pull Out of New Nuclear Investment in the UK

That leaves the field wide open for foreign companies including Japan's Hitachi and China's state-owned Guangdong Nuclear Power Company.

From Wired UK (2/4/2013; emphasis is mine):

Centrica pulls out of deal for new UK nuclear power stations

Centrica, the company that owns British Gas, has decided not to invest in building new nuclear power stations in the UK. It was the last British company with an interest in investing in the planned next generation of nuclear plants, with the government now hoping that foreign companies will step into the breach.

The government's energy policy has focused on the construction of new nuclear power plants to replace the old nuclear and fossil fuel plants that will be going offline within the next decade, but that has always been reliant upon private investment. Centrica's decision to pull out -- citing "uncertainty about overall project costs and the construction schedule" -- will be a blow to the prospective construction of the four nuclear power plants that the company had a 20 percent stake. Centrica has launched a £500m share repurchasing programme to recoup some of its initial £2.2bn investment for its shareholders.

The four new stations -- located in Hinkley Point in Somerset and Sizewell in Suffolk -- are planned by French energy company EDF, with Centrica taking a 20 percent share in their cost and future operations in 2008. However, costs have been driven up since then for various reason (including new safety measures imposed in the wake of the Fukushima disaster), leading Centrica to feel its investment is no longer cogent. Centrica will retain, however, the 20 percent stake it owns in eight existing nuclear power stations it also purchased in 2008.

EDF has reportedly been in talks with the Chinese state-owned Guangdong Nuclear Power Company over investment into its new nuclear projects in Europe, and may look to it to take up Centrica's now-free share.

Centrica's withdrawal is not the latest blow to the future of British nuclear power, either, with Cumbrians voting last week against the construction of a vast underground nuclear waste storage facility in the county. As the only location in the UK to express interest in hosting large quantities of nuclear waste, the rejection puts the government in a difficult position with regards to disposing of any waste to come from new nuclear power plants yet to open.

However, Hitachi's purchase of the rights in October 2012 for the rights to a new generation of nuclear plants that may generate up to six gigawatts of power is being pointed to by the government as evidence that the UK remains an attractive place for foreign energy companies to invest.


Anonymous said...


Government study: France nuclear accident would cost 430 billion euros

Tens of thousands of refugees, irradiated areas, huge costs: a nuclear accident of the scale of the Fukushima disaster would have devastating consequences in France. This results in a government study. Directly affected would probably Germany.

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