RWE interested in Dutch nuclear newbuild if new govt revokes ban

Friday, February 26, 2010

German utility RWE has indicated its interest in building a nuclear power plant in the Netherlands should a new government revoke the ban on such projects, RWE CEO Juergen Grossmann said at the company's annual earnings press conference Thursday in Essen.

"We are interested and we are competent," Grossmann said, when asked about the issue by a Dutch journalist.

According to the CEO, the consensus in the Netherlands is that a new Dutch government would revoke the ban on nuclear newbuilds. "But only then this question would become an issue for us and we would look into its economic viability," Grossmann said. "Let's not push it too far, let's wait for the new government," he added.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's coalition government collapsed on February 20 when the two largest parties failed to agree on whether to withdraw troops from Afghanistan this year as planned.

The coalition government had agreed not to approve any new nuclear plants in the Netherlands during its mandate, after Dutch utility Delta planned to build a nuclear power plant.

RWE gained 50% of the Netherlands' only nuclear power plant at Borssele through its Eur8.2 billion ($10.6 billion) takeover of Dutch utility Essent.

Delta, owner of the other 50% of Borssele, has mooted plans to build a second nuclear power station nearby after a potential ban on newbuilds.

The reactor generates just 4% of the Netherlands' electricity, with most Dutch power coming from coal and gas units as well as exports from Germany and Norway.

A 1994 decision by the Dutch parliament to phase out the Borssele plant by 2003 was subsequently put back and eventually overturned.

The 485 MW boiling water reactor is expected to operate until 2033.

German utility RWE owns and operates five nuclear power plants in Germany and is in discussions with the government to extend the lifespan of its German reactors beyond 2022. The company also formed a joint venture with E.ON to build nuclear power plants in the UK.

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