Swiss utility, BKW, has entered the potentially lucrative nuclear power plant decommissioning business.

The company purchased a small German nuclear services company on Thursday, joining firms including GE that are banking on rising revenue from the decommissioning of European nuclear plants.

BKW, which plans to dismantle its own Muehleberg nuclear station after shuttering it in 2019, bought Dienstleistungen fuer Nukleartechnik GmbH (DfN). Its services include verifying that components removed from nuclear facilities are no longer radioactive.
Nuclear power plant icon
Fortum, Bechtel and the GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy alliance are also among those seeking to benefit from plant decommissioning in Sweden as well as Germany.

Germany decided to exit nuclear power by 2022 following the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011. Energy groups E.ON and EnBW, which are now tearing down their German nuclear plants, are also seeking to utilise newfound dismantling expertise by offering similar services elsewhere in the world.

With its acquisition of DfN, BKW hopes to capitalise on a growing sector. DfN is already working on five plants that are in the process of being decommissioned, BKW said.

“Germany has many decommissioning projects either underway or in the works with the planned or already completed shuttering of nuclear power stations,” BKW said in a statement. “That will open significant growth potential for DfN in the area of radiation protection services.”

The extent of interest in the sector can be gauged by the strength of labour forces involved in decommissioning projects. E.ON has 650 staff at its PreussenElektra decommissioning unit and GE Hitachi’s 3,000 employees.

Meanwhile France too is capping its nuclear power capacity and dispensing with older nuclear power plants. Veolia has also started selling nuclear dismantling and decommissioning services in recent years, while EDF is expected to enter the business after its acquisition of Areva NP.

DfN will not compete with larger companies that will be in charge of decommissioning, BKW said, but instead will offer complementary services necessary to completing the projects.