26 February 2013

AREVA Out in Finland, EDF Facing Two‑year Delay in UK

Troubling news for the French state controlled nuclear industry groups AREVA and EDF. AREVA has lost a potential market for its EPR (European Pressurized Water Reactor) in Finland and EDF might have to sit out a lengthy European Commission investigation before it can envisage to invest in new projects in the UK.

The Finnish energy group Fennovoima has terminated the on-going bidding process for a new 1600 MW reactor and has invited Toshiba to direct negotiations over the potential supply of an Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR). This means that competitor AREVA’s EPR offer has been excluded from further proceedings. The two bids had been under review since January 2012. Fennovoima stated that it now would also look into a “mid-sized plant option” that could bring AREVA back in with its ATMEA model. So far, AREVA was unable to receive a single order for the 1100 MW Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR). Toshiba and Rosatom have also been named as potential suppliers for a smaller unit.

Meanwhile, UK Press reports, suggest that even if EDF and the UK Government reach an agreement on the fixed price of electricity for two proposed EPR units at Hinkley this spring, it may take another year or more for any deal to be finalized. The new hurdle is said to result from the requirement by the European Commission to review any subsidies and their possible State Aid character. The Hinkley case is likely to be particularly complicated as it is both the first nuclear project and given the size and length of any price guarantees the long term impact on the market will need to be assessed. The Times quoted Keith MacLean, energy utility SSE’s policy and research director, as saying: “It therefore seems unlikely that a final decision will be made on State Aid approval for nuclear subsidy under electricity market reforms before 2015 at the earliest, and potentially much later. This is why gambling our energy and capacity future on nuclear is a high-risk strategy.”