Spanish say adios to UK nuclear

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The owner of Scottish Power has pulled out of a multibillion-pound plan to build atomic reactors, dealing a blow to Britain’s faltering nuclear renaissance.

The decision by Iberdrola, the Spanish energy giant, means there is now a question mark over two of the three groups that planned plants. Ministers hoped the trio would build a dozen reactors generating roughly a fifth of Britain’s power over the next 20 years.

However, only one of the three, a joint venture between EDF and Centrica, is ploughing ahead. It will spend £14 billion on two reactors at Hinkley Point, Somerset, subject to agreement about power prices.

Worries about price and construction costs have dogged the other two players, Horizon and NuGen. Horizon was to have built six reactors in Gloucestershire and Anglesey but its German owners, RWE and Eon, put it up for sale. Bids closed on Friday.

Iberdrola, Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) and France's GDF Suez set up the third group, NuGen, to build reactors at Sellafield. It is understood the Spanish company, grappling with energy taxes and deteriorating cashflows at home, told GDF recently that it could not proceed. SSE dropped out last year. GDF is unlikely to go ahead on its own. The companies declined to comment.

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