September 7, 2017 / 7:14 PM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-Swiss utility BKW jumps into nuclear plant dismantling business

* DfN already works with BKW at Muehleberg station

* GE, Hitachi and Veolia also looking at decommissioning business (Adds comment from BKW)

By John Miller

ZURICH, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Swiss utility BKW AG bought a small German nuclear services company on Thursday, joining firms including GE that are banking on rising revenue from the decommissioning of European nuclear plants.

BKW, which plans to dismantle its own Muehleberg nuclear station after shuttering it in 2019, bought Dienstleistungen fuer Nukleartechnik GmbH (DfN). Its services include verifying that components removed from nuclear facilities are no longer radioactive.

Other companies, including Finland’s Fortum, privately held U.S.-based Bechtel and the GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy alliance, are also seeking to benefit from plant decommissioning in Sweden as well as Germany.

Germany decided to exit nuclear power by 2022 following the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011.

Similarly, energy groups E.ON and EnBW, which are now tearing down their German nuclear plants, are seeking to parlay newfound dismantling expertise by offering similar services elsewhere in the world.

With its acquisition of DfN, BKW hopes to capitalise on a growing sector. DfN is already working on five plants that are in the process of being decommissioned, BKW said.

“Germany has many decommissioning projects either underway or in the works with the planned or already completed shuttering of nuclear power stations,” BKW said in a statement.

“That will open significant growth potential for DfN in the area of radiation protection services,” it said.

BKW’s DfN will be a comparatively tiny player, with 22 employees. BKW declined to disclose financial details of the transaction or current or projected revenue for DfN.

That compares E.ON’s 650 staff at its PreussenElektra decommissioning unit and GE Hitachi’s 3,000 employees.

French water and waste giant Veolia has also started selling nuclear dismantling and decommissioning services in recent years, while France’s EDF is expected to enter the business after its acquisition of Areva NP.

DfN will not compete with larger companies that will be in charge of decommissioning, BKW said, but instead will offer complementary services necessary to completing the projects.

“The services from DfN accompany the decommissioning projects but will cover niche activities that require very special qualifications and authorisation,” a spokeswoman said.

There are 449 nuclear power stations in 31 countries.

Switzerland has five reactors including Beznau 1, the world’s oldest operating nuclear plant that was powered up in 1969.

BKW has worked with the Heidelberg-based company since it was founded in 2009 on radiation protection for its Muehleberg station, the Bern-based utility said. DfN’s head, Martin Herzner, will continue to run the unit. (Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Jon Boyle, Greg Mahlich)

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