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Six companies vie to build nuclear plants

Six companies have signalled interest in building new nuclear power stations in Britain including a newcomer to the UK electricity industry, showing the strength of enthusiasm for the potential of nuclear power in spite of the problems it has faced.

Areva, the French state-controlled nuclear engineering company, has signed up the six companies as possible users of its European Pressurised Reactor design.

One of them is Suez, the French-Belgian utility, which would be new to the British market. The others are electricity suppliers EDF of France, Eon and RWE of Germany, Iberdrola of Spain, which has just bought Scottish Power, and also British Energy, which runs Britain's more modern nuclear power stations.


Friday is the deadline for companies to submit reactor designs for pre-licensing - which is part of the new system of approving plans for new nuclear power plants that is intended to streamline the process.

The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate - part of the Health and Safety Executive - and the Environment Agency, which are the regulators, are expected to decide on which designs have been given pre-licensing approval by next spring, and then issue a full licence by the end of 2010.

Companies planning to build new plants would then need to get approval for the specific locations they wanted to use.

The idea is to get all the necessary approvals cleared within five years, with construction and start-up taking another five years, so the first new nuclear power stations can be on-stream within the 10-year target.

EDF has said it wants its first new nuclear plant operational by the end of 2017.

The regulators have said they expect to license three reactor designs, to allow some competition and choice in the market. Four companies are thought to be applying for pre-licensing for their designs, with Westinghouse, now owned by Toshiba, GE, and AECL, the Canadian state-owned nuclear company, joining Areva. One is likely to be rejected at the pre-licensing stage.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 20th, 2007 at 07:40:21 AM EST

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