Investors warm to UK nuclear plant projects

Marion Dakers
THE UK’s next generation of nuclear power plants will come closer to construction this week, as bids roll in for the Horizon project and EDF progresses in talks with potential partners for work at Hinkley Point.

Horizon’s future was put in doubt in March, when RWE and E.ON put the £15bn joint venture up for sale, blaming the onerous cost of going ahead with the project.

But a raft of firms are expected to table final bids ahead of Friday’s deadline, including a consortium led by Westinghouse and Exelon, another fronted by Areva and Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation, and General Electric Hitachi.

Horizon is made up of sites in Gloucestershire and Angelsey, with a goal of generating 6.6 gigawatts of nuclear power.

Nomura, acting for the sellers, has set the end of September as a final deadline for offers.

But the line-up of bidders could be altered by EDF’s separate efforts to make progress on its Hinkley Point site in Somerset.

France’s EDF last week started a public consultation about a new plant at Sizewell, and is searching for a partner to shoulder some of the financial burden for Hinkley Point.

It is believed to be in talks with several Chinese institutions before it makes a final investment decision at the end of the year.

EDF declined to comment on the identity of its possible backers, but said in a statement: “We have said for some time that we were open to the idea of other investment partners and as we approach our final investment decision, it is right to consider funding options.

“The project is advancing well and has achieved a level of maturity to make it attractive to potential new investors.”

Both schemes are crucial to the coalition’s aim of replacing Britain’s ageing nuclear power stations. The Department for Energy and Climate Change, which declined to comment yesterday, has been championing both projects to potential investors worldwide. It expects the nuclear industry to develop 16 gigawatts of new capacity by 2025.