PARIS, Oct 26 (Reuters) - French gas and power group Engie will keep nuclear energy as part of its strategy but there is less room for it now and further investments in nuclear will depend on regulation and economics, the company’s CEO said on Wednesday.
Engie, a market leader in French gas and a challenge to EDF in French power, operates seven nuclear reactors in Belgium and has nuclear newbuild projects in Britain and Turkey.
“Nuclear is and will remain an important element of our strategy,” Engie Chief Executive Officer Isabelle Kocher told reporters in reply to questions on Wednesday.
She added there was less room now for nuclear power than there was 20 years ago as other technologies had emerged and were increasingly competitive.
She said that in some cases it is better to install renewables with batteries, but that in some countries nuclear will probably remain necessary in the energy mix.
Engie has a 40 percent stake in the Toshiba-led NuGen consortium to build three Westinghouse nuclear reactors in Britain. It is also part of a consortium to build a nuclear plant in Turkey.
Kocher said Engie was far from taking investment decisions on its British and Turkish projects.
“We expect 2018 for the UK and later for Turkey, but we may know this sooner if it becomes clear that the regulatory context and market environment are not favourable,” she said.
She also said that one of Engie’s older Belgian nuclear plants had just been granted a 10-year life span expansion and that an extension for the two others was imminent.
NuGen Chief Executive Tom Samson said last month the consortium is looking for financing worth 12 to 15 billion pounds ($18.35 billion) and wants to take a final investment decision by the fourth quarter of 2018.
The consortium is talking to potential equity investors and creditors about financing for the project, set to be built at a site next to the Sellafield nuclear site in west Cumbria. ($1 = 0.8175 pounds) (Reporting by Geert De Clercq, editing by David Evans)