German power suppliers RWE and E.On today announced they have cancelled plans to build nuclear power stations at sites in Anglesey and Oldbury-on-Severn.
The two firms were due to construct the nuclear plants under a joint venture called Horizon Nuclear Power, but decided to abandon the plans after alleged financing problems at the companies.
Also cited as a reason for the abandonment of the plans are the costs associated with decommissioning nuclear power plants in Germany after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Coalition Government decided to scrap all nuclear power projects in response to the nuclear disaster in Japan.
RWE and E.On have said in a joint statement that they are seeking other companies to take over the project. Volker Beckers, chief executive of RWE Npower, told the BBC: “We continue to believe that nuclear power has an important role to play in the UK’s future energy mix. We are therefore looking to ensure that work on development, including grid connection, can be taken up quickly by other potential investors.”
The Government expressed its disappointment regarding the pull out of RWE and E.On, but added that there is considerable interest from companies interested in taking over the project.
The news came after a government proposal to invest up to £15 million in research, development and knowledge transfer to stimulate innovation and support growth in the civil nuclear power sector.
The investment was announced by the Technology Strategy Board during its “Collaboration Nation: Nuclear R&D” event at the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Rotherham, which attracted about 250 delegates from over 70 companies.
Responding to today’s announcement that RWE and E.On will halt their UK nuclear plans, chairman of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ power division Alistair Smith said: “This is worrying news which will certainly delay a key part of the UK’s nuclear build programme.”
He pointed out that reliance on imported, carbon-intensive gas would increase and make the UK a hostage to volatile gas prices.
He went on to lament the impact of German domestic policy on that of the UK: “[The decision] is a sad indictment of successive governments’ failure to nurture a strong UK power generation industry that today a decision made in Berlin can have such a serious impact on British energy policy.”