RWE Horizon Exit Wylfa B Threat
by J Roberts
Is German energy utility RWE considering pulling out of its Horizon Nuclear Power joint venture with E.ON, which includes building Wylfa B on Anglesey?
According to This is Money
, RWE is reported to be on the verge of leaving the JV with E.ON due to the growing uncertainties caused by a change in energy policy by the Merkel government.LATEST: 29 March 2012: RWE E.ON announce withdrawal from UK nuclear build.
Following the Fukushima nuclear incident a number of countries around the world reacted in varying degrees, either by suspending current new build projects or announcing an end to all nuclear generation.
While the UK Governemnt commissioned a report to look at the implications of Fukushima with the Weightman Review, German Chancellor Angela Merkel decided firmly to end all nuclear energy generation in that country by 2023.
Given that RWE and E.ON have three jointly owned nuclear plants in Germany as well as interests in many other reactors in that country and Sweden, inevitably such a change in policy direction was going to influence strategy at RWE going forward.
This may have serious implications for the proposed Wylfa B project at Cemaes on Anglesey, which has been included as one of the preferred sites for new nuclear build in the UK.
While Horizon has started its scoping work and consultations in the local communities both at Oldbury and Wylfa, a major rethink in strategic direction by one of the partners would potentially be a fatal blow to the project, unless another partner could be found to fill RWE's shoes.
Other consortia currently progressing
their projects for new nuclear build in Britain include NuGeneration (French Utility giant GDF Suez and Spanish utility Iberdrola) and the EDF Energy/Centrica partnership which plans to build a new reactor at Sellafield by 2022-23.
What seems to be compounding the problem is the loss of future income streams from the power stations already forced to shut down, and the uncertainty over the scale of future decommissioning costs which have now been brought forward following the German Government decision.
Back in the UK, the much anticipated final report from Dr Mike Weigtman will be released next week in the House of Commons by Energy Secretary Chris Huhne.
Much will rest on the Department for Energy and Climate Change statement, not least the balance of energy mix for the UK going forward and the likely willingness of another company to replace RWE in the Horizon joint venture should the German utility decide to pull out.
There is of course a huge amount at stake for the Anglesey community and the rest of North Wales, given so much expectation has been raised as to the huge economic benefits, in terms of long term job creation and supply chain business, that would flow as a result of Wylfa B going ahead.
We hope the statement from Chris Huhne is favourable to nuclear new build in Britain and that RWE can see its way forward to continuing its committment to Horizon Nuclear Power, and so to Wylfa B and Anglesey going forward.
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