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SSE confirms withdrawal from new nuclear plans

Scottish and Southern Energy has confirmed it will sell its share in a consortium with plans to develop a new nuclear station at Sellafield.

SSE confirmed in a statement today that it will sell its 25 per cent share in NuGen to its consortium partners GDF Suez and Iberdrola citing its preference to focus on the renewables market.

SSE generation and supply director Alistair Phillips-Davies said the company wished to prioritise its resources in markets in which it had the greatest areas of expertise.

In a statement, SSE said it had made the decision based on its scrutiny of the cost, development issues, timetable and operational efficacy of nuclear power stations.

The NuGen consortium has an option to purchase land for the development of a new nuclear power station near Sellafield from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), for £70m. It is expected to make a final decision on investment in a new nuclear station in 2015.

Alistair Phillips-Davies

“The UK will need both nuclear and renewable energy in the future, but we have made it clear from the start of our involvement in NuGen that for SSE our core investment in generation should be in renewable energy.

“At the same time, it made sense to be part of NuGen to help establish whether some participation in new nuclear power stations would be the right thing for SSE, given we have no experience of ownership or operations in the nuclear sector.

“We have always adopted a cautious approach to the financial and other issues associated with nuclear power development. NuGen will have to make a multi-billion pound investment decision around 2015, but even getting to the point of that decision will absorb, from now on, significant financial and management resources from everyone in the joint venture.

“We have concluded that, for the time being, our resources are better deployed on business activities and technologies where we have the greatest knowledge and experience.

“We wish NuGen well, and continue to believe that nuclear power is a tried and tested way of generating electricity that is consistent with energy security and decarbonisation objectives, and it is clear there is significant public policy and planning impetus behind new nuclear development.

“We may become involved again at a future date, either as an investor or as a purchaser of electricity, but for the moment our investment plans are focused on renewable energy, gas-fired generation, including carbon capture and storage options, and alternative energy developments.”

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