It doesn't look much, but it could be another small nail in the coffin of British nuclear power ambitions.
SSE is by no means a big player, but it was part of the NuGen consortium, linked with France's GDF Suez and Spain's Iberdrola – two seriously big players. They are now buying SSE's 25 percent share in the consortium, leaving both companies with an equal share of 50 percent.
Apart from leaving another chunk of British infrastructure in foreign hands – if it ever happens - this is seen as a blow to the British government which wants to see a series of new nuclear plants in operation by 2025. "It sends a big signal to the government saying: 'Look you've got to give us more security'," said Karen Dawson, director in the energy sector at consultancy PwC.
However, despite SSE's withdrawal, the NuGen group plans to continue with its project to build 3.6 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear capacity at Sellafield. Its first new nuclear power plant is expected to start around 2023 and a final investment decision is planned for 2015/16.
"We are ... highly confident about our prospects in respect of our development plans in West Cumbria and there is no reason why this decision by SSE should impact upon our plans or timetable," Iberdrola and GDF Suez said in a joint statement.
So everything is alright then ... except they forgot the world-wide credulity crunch. Writes David Malone:
Does anyone anywhere believe anything they are told, on any subject, by any government official, financial expert or banker? Beneath all the outright lies, hopeless spin and half truths there is a more fundamental and corrosive problem. WE DON’T BELIEVE YOU!Apart from that, everything is normal, everything under is control ... nothing can go wring ...