UK: RWE & E.ON exit from Horizon nuclear project

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With the two German nuclear power giants pulling out of the Horizon joint-venture project in the U.K., speculations are that French nuclear power giant EDF will take over the development. The Horizon project planned on the development of new nuclear stations in Wylfa in North Wales and in Oldbury-on-Severn in Gloucestershire. The joint-venture was planned to have around 6,000 megawatts of capacity by 2025. Approximately £15 billion is involved as investment.

E.ON has said that it will focus on other strategic projects that will "deliver earlier benefit for customers and the company". E.ON’s chief executive U.K., Tony Cocker said, "Our commitment to the U.K. remains as strong as ever and as our track record shows, with over £1 billion of investment in the last year alone, we will continue to select the right projects in which to invest." The decision was announced to Horizon staff yesterday morning (U.K. time) at the headquarters near Glouchester.

Cocker added, "We believe that for the right company Horizon remains an attractive project – but sadly, at this time, not for us." Horizon Chief Operating Officer Alan Raymant said, "We are grateful for the support and backing of E.ON and RWE npower since the company was formed in 2009. This has enabled us to bring our projects forward to an advanced stage."

This project is deemed highly important by the U.K. government, as part of its low-carbon bid. The country’s Premier, David Cameron had mentioned in his national infrastructure plan less than two weeks ago that nuclear energy "forms the backbone of U.K.’s lower carbon generation". He added that nine nuclear plants are left still in service, although fast reaching end-of-life, and that he was convinced that the government needs to be active in replacing them.

With the German utility power companies pulling out, the project is said to likely fall into the hands of EDF Energy, Horizon Nuclear Power and NuGeneration. This was stated by the Nuclear Industry Association, the trade association and representative voice of Britain’s civil nuclear industry.