The Independent Assessment of Nuclear Developments in the World

Home > News > In the Media > The Guardian (UK): Centrica withdraws from new UK nuclear projects

The Guardian (UK): Centrica withdraws from new UK nuclear projects

Tuesday 5 February 2013

British Gas owner’s unexpected exit – blamed on rising costs and construction delays – clears way for Chinese investors

by Damian Carrington

guardian.co.uk, Monday 4 February 2013 11.44 GMT

Energy company Centrica has abandoned its plans for building new nuclear reactors in the UK, blaming rising costs and construction delays.

The move is a blow to the government’s aspirations to build the most ambitious fleet of new reactors in Europe, and comes on the day MPs severely criticised the management of nuclear waste at Sellafield and after Cumbria county council rejected proposals for a deep burial site to permanently dispose of the waste.

Centrica will forfeit its 20% option on four new nuclear plants planned by EDF in Somerset and Suffolk, writing down £200m in the process. EDF, owned by the French state, has been in talks with the state-owned China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation, which may pick up Centrica’s option.

Centrica’s exit means no major UK company remains involved in plans for new nuclear reactors in the UK, but Centrica retains its 20% stake in eight existing nuclear power stations.

Sam Laidlaw, chief executive of Centrica, said: "We believe that nuclear generation has a valuable role to play in a balanced UK energy mix. However, since our initial investment [in 2008], the anticipated project costs in new nuclear have increased and the construction timetable has extended by a number of years." In particular, Laidlaw blamed the very large 1.6GW units planned for Hinkley Point in Somerset for making the project more expensive, and design modifications imposed after the Fukushima disaster for adding to delays.

More...

What They Say…

“The Report sets forth in painstaking detail the actual experience and achievements of nuclear energy around the world.”

Peter A. Bradford

Former commissioner
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
(in his foreword to the 2013 report)
“A vital public service... Uniquely independent, thorough, and timely assessment."

Amory B. Lovins

Chairman, Rocky Mountain Institute
USA
“This annual publication has over 20 years evolved into the most reliable, strikingly original, comprehensive and penetrating assessment of the global nuclear industry.”

Praful Bidwai

Financial Chronicle
Delhi, India
"Amid the hype and PR, the smoke and mirrors, of the 'nuclear renaissance', the Status Report offers a hard-edged reality check."

Walt Patterson

Associate Fellow Chatham House
London, UK
“Fantastic piece of work. Must reading for any observer of nuclear energy."

Henri Sokolski

Executive Director Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
Washington DC, USA
“Reliable research based on cold, hard facts, unlike the hype and amnesia of industry sources.”

Scott Ludlam

Senator
Australia
“Félicitations pour la dernière édition du WNISR. Formidable comme d'habitude!”

Fulcieri Maltini

International Consultant Former Director of the Nuclear Safety Account, EBRD
Italy/France
“Thought-provoking as usual.”

Will Dalrymple

Editor Nuclear Engineering International
UK
"The authoritative report on the status of nuclear power plants worldwide is the World Nuclear Industry Status Report."

USAID

Bangkok, Thailand
“Such an illuminating report.”

Sam Geall

Deputy Editor China Dialogue
London, UK
"An astounding collection of facts and figures, a myth-busting international overview… An eye-opening piece of work!"

R. Andreas Krämer

Chairman Ecologic Institute
Berlin, Germany
“I really appreciate you letting us excerpt your report! It’s incredibly well researched and comprehensive, so thank you!”

Stuart Luman

Associate Editor Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
USA