Europe Nuclear Investing

Will the UK Abandon Nuclear Power?

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted May 16, 2012

Top energy providers in the UK are abandoning plans for nuclear energy due to the enormous cost.

As reported in the Guardian UK, had RWE invested its planned billions of dollars into nuclear energy, it would’ve forced a massive credit-rating downgrade while E.ON threw plans to the scrapheap due to a lack of “financial firepower.”

In addition to the aforementioned reasons, nuclear power plants are tricky in the current economic crisis because the present cost is huge and the payback timetable is measured in decades.

RWE and E.ON canceled plans to build new reactors back in March while work at EDF’s new site in Hinkley has come to a screeching halt because its partner Centrica stated the case for nuclear investment is “unproven.” RWE is still limping from one downgrading. Another would be devastating.

RWE and E.ON’s nuclear troubles are also stemming from a decision made by the German government (both companies are German-owned) to kick nuclear to the curb.

These issues have coalesced into both companies trying to sell the Horizon project, a $30+ billion investment in reactors in Wylfa on Anglesey and Oldbury.

All of this comes at a time when the British government is having issues meeting its plan of having eight new nuclear power plants built within the decade.

Government officials are in the process of negotiating with companies over how much customers can expect to pay for new, low carbon energy generation, such as nuclear and wind. Energy Minister Charles Hendry recently stated, “We will not sign up for anything we think is bad for bill payers. We believe nuclear should be the lowest-cost, large-scale energy source, and the price will reflect that.”

Of course, until Charles can provide data the proves nuclear is the best low-cost, large-energy source, his rhetoric may fall on deaf ears.