Italian nuclear moved forward at summit

24 February 2009

French and Italian companies will have integral roles in each other's nuclear future, after agreements signed today in Rome.

Sarkozy and Berlusconi
Renaissance men: French President
Nicolas Sarkozy speaks, while Italian
prime minister Silvio Berlusconi looks on

The 27th Franco-Italian summit saw delegations of ministers from both sides meet in at the aptly chosen Villa Madama, which boasts impressive renaissance architecture. After pleasantries and photographs, a new agreement on cooperation in nuclear energy was concluded by the states.


An immediate commercial aspect to cooperation was represented by two deals between Electricité de France and Enel. Firstly, the two will form a 50/50 partnership to conduct feasibility studies towards "at least four EPRs in Italy." Any Italian EPRs would be built, owned and operated by new companies instituted for the task. Enel would retain a majority stake and EdF's involvement would be expected but further investors would be also be invited.


The second deal will see Enel take a 12.5% stake in the new reactor to be constructed at Penly. Enel already has an equivalent stake in Flamanville 3, under construction now, and takes the stake in Penly 3 by exercising a right from a long-term partnership agreed in 2007, which gave both companies the option to take significant stakes in each others new nuclear projects. Enel still has the right to take 12.5% of the next four EPRs that EdF might build before 2023 and the company has previously said it would establish a training centre for the EPR design.


The twin memorandums of understanding were signed by the heads of Enel and EdF, Fulvio Conti and Pierre Gadonneix respectively.


The step is among the biggest that Italy has so far taken towards a re-employment of nuclear energy, which was completely phased out following a referendum called as a result of the Chernobyl disaster. This situation was reversed by the general election of May 2008, when Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party put a return to nuclear energy in its manifesto.


Enel's other nuclear interests

Four days ago, Enel signed off on a €11.1 billion deal to buy 25.01% of Spain's Endesa from previous owner Acciona and and take its share to 92.02%. Enel said that Endesa was to pay several billions in dividends to shareholders, and those transactions among other things would reduce the final figure for the purchase to €9.6 billion.

Endesa has involvement with three nuclear reactors: The company owns 100% of Ascó 1; 85% of Ascó 2 and 78% of Vandellós 2. All of them are pressurized water reactors producing around 1000 MWe.

Enel also owns 66% of Slovakia's Slovenske Electrarne, which operates four nuclear reactors at Bohunice and Mochovce totalling 1690 MWe. Fuelled by investment from Enel, it recently relaunched work to complete the Mochovce 3 and 4 nuclear power reactors to add a further 840 MWe.