Private Equity For Wylfa Decommissioning Challenge
by J Harris
Could the private equity sector help to defuel and decommission Wylfa Nuclear Power Station on Anglesey after it is due to close in 2010?
According to Terry Macalister (Guardian), government agencies including the UK Atomic Energy Authority have already explored this possibility with a number of private equity firms.
It appears the Nuclear Installation Inspectorate (NII) is trying to ?think outside the box? in order to secure sufficient capital for these complex processes.
This could well be one innovative way of addressing both the rising costs of decommissioning old nuclear sites safely and concern over pressure on the public finances.
NII Chief Inspector Mike Weightman is urging the UK Government to act now because decommissioning and site clean-up will be more difficult and costly if there are further delays.
In 2004 the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) was set a challenging target by the Treasury to reduce the £73 billion liability for civil nuclear clean up by 10 per cent.
This now seems most unlikely with the latest NDA estimates suggesting costs over 80 billion pounds.
According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the NDA currently receives about £8 billion over three years and says there needs to be a balance between what is desirable and affordable, with safety always paramount.
Wylfa appears less challenging from the technical point of view than either Sellafield in Cumbria or Dounreay in Scotland, though it will be interesting to see to what extent if any, private equity capital is used to help defuel, decommission and clean-up the island's aging Magnox nuclear power station.
There is, of course, one scenario that could alter the above equation as far as Wylfa is concerned and that is the possible decision to give the Anglesey nuclear plant extra years beyond the 2010 deadline.
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