Big losses on new Finnish nuclear reactor are a warning to Barroso

Press release - September 28, 2006
Brussels, International — Significant financial losses on the EU’s only nuclear power plant under construction should serve as a warning to the European Commission not to back the technology in its forthcoming Strategic Energy Review, Greenpeace said today.

State-owned French nuclear group, Areva, yesterday reported significant but unspecified losses on the new reactor it is constructing on a fixed-price contract at Olkiluoto in Finland. The losses are due at least in part to technical problems that have so far led to a one-year delay in the schedule. The company also indicated that its overall financial situation had deteriorated markedly when compared to last year, and that the division responsible for Olkiluoto-3 was by far the worst performing part of the group. [1]

Last week, the European Commission announced that it would include a new discussion paper on nuclear energy, including potentially the setting of European targets, in its forthcoming energy package due in January. [2] Meanwhile, the Commission also continues to investigate unlawful public subsidies to the Olkiluoto project, following complaints made by Greenpeace and others in 2004. [3]

"The nuclear industry has not changed," said Greenpeace Energy Campaigner Mark Johnston. "Cost overruns, construction delays and state subsidies remain some of its dominant characteristics".

"The European Commission must recognise that the further development of nuclear power would damage Europe's economy as well as its environment".

"The Commission's forthcoming strategic energy review must prioritise renewable energy and energy efficiency. Both these options that are less expensive, inherently safe, more secure, quicker to deliver and environmentally friendly.

"Without state aid, the Olkiluoto project would likely never have gone ahead. The European Commission should stop dragging its feet on its state aid investigation and order the repayment of the aid that has been granted illegally."



Other contacts:

Mark Johnston, EU Energy Policy Campaigner, Greenpeace, tel +32 (0) 2 274 1921
Katharine Mill, Media Officer, Greenpeace European Unit, tel +32 (0) 2 274 1903

Notes:

[1] See ‘First Half 2006 Results’ at http://www.areva.com/

[2] Speech by Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, 22 September 2006, SPEECH/06/524.

[3] Greenpeace filed a state aid complaint to the European Commission’s Directorate General for Competition in October 2004 concerning the €610 million ‘export’ credit guarantee granted to the project by COFACE, a French government agency. Greenpeace understands that an additional effect of this French guarantee has been to reduce significantly the interest rates in the syndicated loan that provides the main
finance for the project. An separate state aid complaint against Olkiluoto-3 by the European Renewable Energies Federation was submitted in December 2004.

Categories