Vattenfall has announced that it is putting any decisions on taking part in nuclear new build in the UK on hold for the next 12-18 months, citing "the economic recession and market situation" as reasons for its decision.
In a statement, the Swedish company noted that it retains a "significant interest in the UK energy market." The company said it will maintain a presence in the UK to monitor developments in nuclear new build.
Lars Josefsson, CEO of Vattenfall, told the Reuters Energy Summit in Washington, DC, that the recession and sharp fall in energy prices had left investment decisions related to Britain's plans to let private companies construct new nuclear plants more uncertain.
He said, "So, for that reason we have actually decided for the next year or so that we are not going to make any decisions on investments, but we will continue following the process.”
Vattenfall's plans for developing its UK wind asset portfolio are not affected by this decision.
Vattenfall has been named amongst European utilities supporting both of the reactor designs currently undergoing pre-licensing approval through the UK's Generic Design Assessment (GDA) programme. The company had also supported the UK's Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) in preparing the Justification application, submitted to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) in November 2008. The Justification exercise is required under EU law to ensure that nuclear power developments are in the public interest.
Of all the European energy firms that were once circling the UK new nuclear market, only Vattenfall had yet to announce its intentions.
Josefsson said the economic downturn was affecting investment plans across the Swedish state-owned power group's business, which includes large operations in countries such as Germany and Poland.
"Due to the downturn we have reviewed our complete investment program. So, we have been taking a second and a third look on the entire program based on the new market situation and the more tough market conditions," he said.