Could EDF Buy Wylfa Then Sell To Rival?

by Kevin
(North Wales)

News that EDF, the French power generator, has bought land next to Wylfa on Anglesey is very encouraging for the economic prospects of the island.

This is against a background of its bid for British Energy, the nuclear generator responsible for generating about 20% of UK electricity from its 8 nuclear power stations.

The auction for British Energy closed yesterday and only EDF seems to have put in an offer around the 700p mark.

It appears that NM Rothschild, advisers to the Government in the auction, would be prepared to look at the situation again if a better bid is made.

There is still a possibility that EDF will be joined by a rival bidder, such as Centrica or Spanish company, Iberdrola, in a joint venture for British Energy.

It is understood that the UK Government which owns 35% of British Energy would prefer the auction winner to sell on some of the newly acquired sites to other companies.

And with German companies E.On and RWE, along with UK energy company Centrica and Iberdrola of Spain still interested in the UK power generation market, this is a very strong possibility.

So we can expect the Government either to insist the eventual winner to accept an appropriate joint venture partner or sell a few sites.

This is where Wylfa is significant. The site at Cemaes on Anglesey is owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, not British Energy.

So if EDF does eventually succeed with its takeover bid for British Energy, it may decide to focus on those sites and dispose of the Wylfa location.

The permutations are many but one thing is becoming increasingly clearer.

Whoever takes ownership of the Wylfa location, the momentum is firmly with new nuclear build and Wylfa B is today much closer to becoming a reality.

Anglesey MP Albert Owen has for a long time been pressing hard for Wylfa to be the site chosen for a new power station.

And Anglesey Aluminium, whose smelter outside Holyhead needs to secure a reliable long term electricity supply, will also be encouraged by recent events.

Having put the case to Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks and to the Secretary of State for Wales, Paul Murphy, it seems that Mr Owen's campaign for a new nuclear plant on the island is much closer to being realised.

The next phase will be the formal application for planning at the Wylfa location, and time is not on our side as the UK needs to fill the growing energy generation gap and bear down on its carbon dioxide emissions going forward.

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