Nuclear companies in cash crisis?

Posted by jossc — 17 June 2009 at 11:43am - Comments

A new report out today casts doubt on the ability of the nuclear industry to deliver its promised new reactors.

French companies EDF and Areva, who are at the forefront of the new worldwide reactor design and building programme, have been making serious investments in foreign markets where they hope to build new reactors, including here in the UK. As a consequence they are heavily in debt.

Today, EDF announced the issue of new bonds in an effort to raise fresh cash. With the outlook for new build looking increasingly uncertain, the future of both EDF and Areva is now also coming under scrutiny.

The two companies have begun construction work on the so-called 'third generation' European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs) at Flamaville in France and Olkiluoto in Finland. However, both projects have been plagued by delays and spectacular cost over-runs, with Olkiluoto running three years late and 50 per cent over budget already. There have also been major safety concerns over the quality of the build process, not to mention evidence that the waste produced by EPRs will be even more hazardous than that from existing designs.

Failures with these two showcase reactors could deal a severe blow to both companies' reputations - with crucial investors in future markets deciding to think again.

In these precarious financial times, this investor uncertainty could leave both EDF and Areva in serious financial trouble - and the new nuclear programme in doubt. Yet these are the companies that our government will be looking to to build a new generation of nuclear plants here over the next decade. It hardly inspires confidence, even if the new EPRs would be much use in the fight against runaway climate change - which they won't.

Take action

Write to Ed Miliband, energy and climate change secretary, and remind him that we don't need expensive and potentially dangerous new EPR reactors. We can meet our energy needs in a much cheaper, cleaner and safer way, slashing our climate change contributions.

Download the report here »

Read more nuclear news on our Nuclear Reaction blog »

About Joss

Bass player and backing vox in the four piece beat combo that is the UK Greenpeace Web Experience. In my 6 years here I've worked on almost every campaign and been fascinated by them all to varying degrees. Just now I'm working on Peace and Oceans - which means getting rid of our Trident nuclear weapons system and creating large marine reserves so that marine life can get some protection from overfishing.

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