Utilities team up for UK nuclear

14 January 2009

European utilities EOn and RWE will act together to build "at least 6000 MWe" of nuclear capacity in the UK.


AP1000 cutaway
AP1000 and EPR: both seem to be
in the sights of the forthcoming
EOn/RWE joint venture
The companies made simultaneous announcements today. They will form a 50:50 joint venture, and "together contribute the financial stability and balance sheet strength required to support a program of this scale." Judging by recent cost projections for new reactors in the USA, a 6000 MWe fleet would cost far in excess of $20 billion to construct, not including finance, the cost of land and several other factors.


The pair did not announce which nuclear technology they want to build, nor where they want to build it, claiming to have an open position on the matter. However, EOn signed a letter of intent to cooperate with Siemens and Areva to build the latter's 1600 MWe EPR design in April last year and it has gone on to secure a grid connection agreement for exactly 1600 MWe at Oldbury B. Meanwhile, RWE has secured agreements for three 1200 MWe connections at Wylfa C. This matches the output of Westinghouse's AP1000 reactor.


The connection deals are in the 'scoping' phase and would all be available between 2020 and 2022, according to data published on 12 January by the UK's National Grid company. They total 5200 MWe, leaving space for one more project to fulfill EOn and RWE's stated goal of 6000 MWe.


Separately in the UK's rush to replace its aging nuclear fleet, British Energy and its new owner Electricité de France plan four EPRs: two at Sizewell C and two at Hinkley Point C.


If all these projects go ahead, nuclear energy would generate about 35% of UK electricity in the 2020s, compared to about 15% last year and an all-time high of around 30% in the 1980s.

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