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Blow for new nuclear as RWE and Eon confirm withdrawal from Horizon

Energy giants RWE and Eon have pulled out of their joint venture Horizon and will no longer pursue new nuclear projects in the UK, it has been confirmed.

The firms blamed the global economy, concerns over long payback periods and the accelerated phase out of nuclear energy by Germany for their decision but said that they would attempt to find a new owner for Horizon.

Horizon was set to develop nuclear power stations at Wylfa in North Wales and Oldbury in the South West.

“Eon and RWE’s withdrawal is clearly very disappointing, but the partners have clearly explained that this decision was based on pressures elsewhere in their businesses and not any doubts about the role of nuclear in UK’s energy future,” said energy minister Charles Hendry.

Reasons for the decision

The global economic crisis has meant that capital for major projects is at a premium and nuclear power projects are particularly large scale, with very long lead times and payback periods
The effect of the accelerated nuclear phase out in Germany, which has led to RWE adopting a number of measures, including divestments, a capital increase, efficiency enhancements and a leaner capital expenditure budget

Readers' comments (6)

  • We must cease this ridiculous policy of having a large part of our vital utilities in the hands of foreign organisations. We have been obsessed with foreign ownership in key areas of our economy for a very long time and from being a world leader in many areas we are now an also-ran bit-part player. Our governments have failed us. We desperately need leaders who are committed patriots with talent and relevant experience - not the self indulgent egotistical political pygmies who have occupied the so-called corridors of power for decades.
    Jim Barrack

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  • Jims comments are misplaced...our goverment has been very clear, if buisness can make nuclear work, without subsidies, they should. What is becoming more apparent to many, even the very buisness themselves as, is that this is impossible. Behind these descions is the situation in America where with shale gas their gas prices have tunbled....the henryhub spot price today is $2....last June it was $5...in 2008 it was $12....Killing of any potential dreams they might have had. On top of this is the news of Sizewell performing on half power after a yet to be explained outage and the now possible closer of San Onfre in southern California where the replacement of boiler tubes was used as a mask to unlicencesed 'improvements' only for the whole system to collapse, leaking Tritium as it was brought back on stream. And all this is without a thought for what is still happening at Fukushima

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  • I agree completely with Jim's comments in that power generation cannot be trusted to private investment (not just foreign companies). People's lives are at stake and the whims of the stock market have endangered our future supplies.
    Mark, I cannot really make any sense of your views. You say the government wants business to fund investment and then you say this is proving to be impossible. Isn't that the problem? It was realised back in 1947 that the UK's future lay with nationalisation of electricity generation and that's how we achieved a safe and reliable industry. Now we are at the mercy of people who only want to make a profit. Great.

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  • Back in 1947, when the electricity supply was intermittent and unreliable, there was a plan to build rapidly generating stations with 30MW sets, then 60MW, 100MW, 200MW rising to 500MW - Fawley, Littlebrook, West Burton, Cottam etc. This plan, masterminded by the GEGB, provided us with the reliable supply that we have enjoyed since th 60s. (I could add the Magnox and AGRs and the gas turbines).

    Something has to be done soon - or the lights go out - and the computers crash.

    Brian Corbett.

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  • John Mather

    Not to mention the growing demand associated with railway electrification.

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  • It took millions of years to form the gas deposits. The last (my) generation has been wasting/ squandering our gas. Using up vast reserves to enable us to have the heating on, short sleeved shirts and the windows open. When young in Scotland we used to put on a jumper when it got cold. This generation no longer apply prudence or thrift with the gas we get for free at the point of extractiono. No need to refine it. Oil has fared no better. There will be little for future generations to have any choice. WE should use the oill and gas reserves to make plastics etc which unlike gas passed through a power station is not spent in a second and gone forever. What happens whenthere is no more fuel for all those houses being built without chimneys.

    I am a chartered gas engineer. I have built gas terminals and oil terminals and gas power stations. It takes thousands of wind turbines to compensate for one power station of any type. Their maintenance and removal cost is yet to be determined.the cheaper gas may be in the short term the quicker we will waste the limited reserves
    NUCLEAR is the only realistic option. Clean and sustainable.

    Charles Penny
    BSc CEng FICE MGEM

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