E.ON and RWE team up to build UK nuclear plants

LONDON (Reuters) - Germany’s RWE and E.ON have formed a joint venture to build several new nuclear power stations in Britain, the two companies said on Wednesday.

The 50:50 joint venture between E.ON UK and RWE npower hopes to build and operate at least 6 gigawatts of new nuclear power stations in Britain as part of the government’s plan to replace the country’s ageing reactors.

“We welcome and support the UK’s decision to expand its power generation by introducing a new generation of nuclear power stations,” E.ON chief executive Wulf Bernotat said.

“Nuclear power has an important part to play in providing a reliable and low carbon source of electricity. We are pleased to be working with RWE, who we see as a skilled, experienced and reliable partner to develop new nuclear power in the UK.”

E.ON and RWE own and operate nuclear power plants in Germany but have been looking abroad to build and operate new ones because Germany plans to close its reactors by 2021.

Germany’s two biggest utilities said their combined financial strength would help pay for the expensive and lengthy construction process.

“E.ON is the ideal partner for UK development given that our businesses have complementary strengths and capabilities, and a successful track record in nuclear power,” Andrew Duff, Chief Executive of RWE npower, said.

“The UK power industry needs significant investment to replace ageing coal and nuclear plant and to drive the change to a lower carbon economy ... Large infrastructure projects can bring major benefits to the UK economy through jobs, direct investment and supply chain opportunities.”

E.ON last picked Areva and Siemens as partners to build new reactors in Britain in April 2008 but the new joint venture could also use other reactor builders.

“The joint venture retains an open position on the reactor technology for individual sites it acquires and will make a selection based on a thorough assessment of the technical and commercial merits,” the two companies said in a statement.

Reporting by Daniel Fineren, additional reporting by Vera Eckert