New nuclear power plants in UK cancelled

Horizon Nuclear Power, a joint venture formed in 2009 between E.ON UK and RWE npower, on March 29 said it will not proceed with the development of new nuclear power generation in the UK. E.ON and RWE also look to find a new owner for Horizon. The decision means alternative investors will now be sought to advance the work of Horizon Nuclear Power.

RWE said a number of factors changed since the formation of Horizon in 2009, such as the global economic crisis which has made capital for major projects a premium and nuclear power projects are particularly large scale, with very long lead times and payback periods. RWE also said the accelerated nuclear phase out in Germany led to the German-based company to adopt a number of measures, including divestments, a capital increase, efficiency enhancements and a leaner capital expenditure budget.

“We remain convinced that Horizon’s development projects represent excellent sites for new nuclear power stations in the UK,” said Volker Beckers, CEO, RWE npower. “It is because of the strength of support for our development work, particularly on the Island of Anglesey, that 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.”

Horizon was developing two nuclear projects; Wylfa, on the Isle of Anglesey and Oldbury in South Gloucestershire. The Nuclear National Policy Statement in 2011 identified both sites as suitable for new nuclear development.

Horizon said in a statement “the move was based on strategic grounds and both of Horizon’s projects remain excellent development options.” Horizon had plans to develop around 6,000 MW of new nuclear generation in the UK by 2025 with an investment of more than £15bn ($23.83 billion).

“We have made good progress in developing our sites, in particular our lead site at Wylfa, and a strong organization capable of delivering nuclear new build in the UK,” said Horizon Chief Operating Officer Alan Raymant. “We will now focus on consolidating the progress made and working with our shareholders as they investigate the opportunities for new ownership.”

E.ON said it will continue to invest in projects across the UK and the company's wider UK plans will be unaffected by the decision not to advance Horizon Nuclear Power.

"E.ON has decided to focus its investment in the UK on other strategic projects that will allow us to deliver earlier benefit for customers and our company, rather than the very long term and large investment new nuclear power calls for,” said Dr. Tony Cocker, Chief Executive of E.ON UK.

Westinghouse said the company is "disappointed" with the decision, but will continue with new nuclear builds.

"Over the next few weeks, we will engage Horizon and its owners to determine the best direction for continuing the development of these projects and to explore alternative investors in the company," a statement from the company said. "Our partners in NPD UK and the supply base are proud of the significant accomplishments made to date, espeically the granting of Interim Generic Design Acceptance of the AP1000 design in december by the Office of Nuclear Regulation."

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