GdF Suez joins Iberdrola-SSE partnership

04 February 2009

Spain's Iberdrola and France's GdF Suez have entered into a partnership to jointly participate in the construction of new nuclear power plants in the UK. They will work with Britain's Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) to participate in the forthcoming auction of UK nuclear sites.
Two weeks ago, Iberdrola and SSE announced plans for the creation of a joint venture to participate in the UK nuclear new build program. Under a new agreement, Iberdrola will form a joint venture with GdF Suez, which will participate with SSE in the development of new reactors in the UK.
"Through the creation of a dedicated joint venture, GdF Suez and Iberdrola, together with SSE, intend to participate in the sale of nuclear sites owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Electricite de France (EdF)," a joint statement said.
It added, "This 50/50 industrial partnership is established between two European companies with a high level of expertise, know how and performance track record within the nuclear field."
When Iberdrola announced its partnership with SSE, it said, "While each partner brings high quality relationships with equipment suppliers, the joint venture will not be bound to any single vendor for new nuclear development, and will be able to make use of the best available technology for each element of the nuclear new build program." It added, "Both Iberdrola and SSE may consider adding partners to the joint venture in the future."
Iberdrola was one of six major European utilities that have provided resources and shared the costs of taking Westinghouse's AP1000 reactor design through the UK Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process. Suez, through its Belgian subsidiary Electrabel, had also provided support for the AP1000 in the GDA process.
GdF Suez was created through the merger of Suez and Gaz de France (GdF) in July 2008. Prior to their merger, both GdF and Suez has shown interest in entering the nuclear energy field. Suez had earlier expressed an interest in acquiring British Energy (BE), but in May 2008 announced that it had ended talks with BE as its key priority was its pending merger GdF.
GdF Suez owns a 5% equity stake (previously held by Suez) in Areva's forthcoming Georges Besse II uranium enrichment facility in France. The company is also to take a stake in the second Evolutionary Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR) to be constructed in France. Construction of the unit at Penly is expected to start in 2012.
In January, European utilities EOn and RWE announced they will act together to build "at least 6000 MWe" of nuclear capacity in the UK. They said 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." Of all the European energy firms that were once circling the UK new nuclear market, only Vattenfall has yet to announce its intentions.