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The UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has made £387m ($575m) by auctioning off land at three of its sites. The proceeds will help to fund the cost of decommissioning in the UK.

A Germany consortium of E.ON UK and RWE npower won the auctions for land at two of the sites, Oldbury and Wylfa, while EDF was the winning bidder for 200ha of land at Bradwell. A third consortium comprising Iberdrola (40%), GDF Suez (40%), and Scottish and Southern Energy (20%) came away empty handed after dropping out of the auction for financial reasons.

Following the conclusion of the auction, on 29 April, the E.ON/RWE consortium said that it aims to deliver at least 6GW of new nuclear capacity in the UK. The joint-venture “retains an open position on the reactor technology,” it said. However last year E.ON entered into a transmission connection agreement with National Grid for up to 1600MWe of new capacity at Oldbury beginning in 2020. This connection would be suitable for an Areva EPR as would EDF's 1600MWe grid connection agreement for Wylfa from 2017, which the consortium will have an option to acquire.

Paul Golby, chief executive of E.ON UK, said: “This is excellent news, but securing the land is simply the first step on a much longer journey as we look to decarbonise the UK power industry.”

Meanwhile the Iberdrola/GDF Suez/SSE consortium reaffirmed its commitment to building a new fleet of nuclear power stations in the UK, saying it is examining a number of opportunities for other potential sites.

“In particular, the consortium will be focusing on the sites nominated as part of the UK government’s Strategic Siting Assessment, which was published for public consultation last week.”

Iberdrola emerged a surprise leader when the UK government announced the eleven potential sites for the next wave of nuclear build in the UK, supporting six of the sites with letters – including Sellafield, Bradwell, Heysham and Dungeness, which could all be sold in the near future.

“The NDA intends to begin the process for the disposal of land under its ownership at Sellafield as soon as practicably possible,” it said

Also, if EDF goes on to secure planning consent for any of the four EPR units it plans (two each at Sizewell and Hinkley Point), it will be required to dispose of land suitable for new build at one or more its other sites.

EDF will be obliged to sell land identified as suitable for new build at Bradwell on the condition that EDF “goes on to secure planning consent for two EPRs at Sizewell.” Similarly, conditional on securing planning consent at Hinkley Point, EDF would dispose of land at either Heysham or Dungeness.

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Date: Thursday, 30 April 2009
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