Two Beijing-backed energy groups are in talks to buy the Horizon consortium in the UK, and in effect, take a significant stake in the country’s nuclear power generation programme.

Wylfa nuclear power

Eon and RWE (FWB: RWE) put their joint venture, which plans to build two reactors in Britain, up for sale in March, prompting widespread fears about Britain’s energy strategy. Nomura was appointed last week to find a buyer.

Chinese state-owned power companies are among the interested parties in the Horizon sites at Wylfa in north Wales and Oldbury-on-Severn in Gloucestershire, according to the Financial Times.

German utilities, Eon and RWE pulled out of the project in March, leaving Britain’s entire energy strategy in limbo.

Horizon had hoped to get its first new nuclear station operational by 2020, a timetable that may now slip. The joint venture could generate up to 6,600 MW of power.

FT reports that the government and Horizon have been talking to two fledgling consortia although “the parts are still coming together”.

One potential bidder is GDF, which is considering a joint bid with its Nugen partner, Iberdrola, while the other potential consortium involves Japan’s Westinghouse, owned by Toshiba, with a western utility, a Chinese group – either China Guangdong Nuclear Power or China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation – and potentially a sovereign wealth fund.

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