In a surprise move today RWE and E.ON announced they are pulling the plug on Horizon, their new nuclear power project in the UK.
The two German utilities announced they will not proceed with two new plants, pinning the blame on rising costs and the political backlash against nuclear power in their home country in the wake of last year’s nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima plant.
Senior figures from RWE, E.ON and Horizon informed Horizon staff of the decision at its headquarters near Gloucester this morning.
Dr Tony Cocker, E.ON’s chief executive said: “We believe that for the right company Horizon remains an attractive project – but sadly, at this time, not for us.”
The Horizon Nuclear Power project, which is RWE and E.ON’s 50-50 joint-venture, includes two plants at Wylfa in Wales and Oldbury, near Bristol. The two firms hope to sell on the project but have not yet said if they have found any interested parties.
Volker Beckers, RWE npower’s CEO said: “We remain convinced that Horizon’s development projects represent excellent sites for new nuclear power stations in the UK, and we would like to express our sincere thanks to the Horizon employees for their hard work in bringing the projects to this stage of development.”
The Government said this didn’t reflect on the UK’s suitability for nuclear.
Energy Minister Charles Hendry said: “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.
“The UK’s new nuclear programme is far more than one consortia and there remains considerable interest. Plans from EDF/Centrica and Nugen are on track and Horizon’s sites offer new players an excellent ready-made opportunity to enter the market.”