Iberdrola and SSE plan nuclear venture

LONDON (Reuters) - Scottish and Southern Energy and Spain’s Iberdrola plan to work together to build nuclear power plants in Britain, the companies said on Tuesday.

The joint venture’s initial aim is to secure sites suitable for nuclear power stations and it may consider adding partners later, they said.

“Iberdrola is committed to the UK market, and welcomes the UK’s plans to develop new nuclear power plants for low-carbon energy supply,” Pedro Azagra, Iberdrola’s Director of Development, said.

The planned joint venture between Iberdrola and the Scottish utility comes five days after rival German utilities RWE and E.ON joined forces to build nuclear power stations in Britain as part of the British government’s plan to replace ageing reactors.

“We accept that one more tranche of nuclear power stations is necessary for the UK’s energy policy goals from around the end of the next decade,” Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE’s Energy Supply Director, said.

“We also recognise that we will have to continue to be able to source power generated from nuclear stations if we are to be able to meet our customers’ energy needs in the long term.”

Iberdrola has stakes in seven Spanish nuclear power plants and owns utility company ScottishPower.

The Scottish government opposes the construction of any new nuclear power plants north of the border, while London wants the old state-built power stations in England and Wales to be replaced.

Like the German joint venture announced last week, the Iberdrola-SSE partnership said it would not be tied to particular equipment suppliers and would make use of the best available technology for each element build programme.

French nuclear energy giant EDF has led the push to replace Britain’s atomic energy facilities and is buying British Energy , the owner of most of the existing plants, so it can build at least four at those sites.

Reporting by Daniel Fineren, editing by Anthony Barker