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Shock of Japan disaster still ripples round globe

As the United Kingdom pushes for a bigger presence in the nuclear field, companies in other nations are drawing down their presence.

As the United Kingdom pushes for a bigger presence in the nuclear field, companies in other nations are drawing down their presence.

The effects of last year's meltdown at Japan's Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant sparked a wave of popular anti-nuclear sentiment that led governments to abandon atomic energy in Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Now companies are grappling with the aftermath.

German utility groups, forced to shut down atomic plants ahead of schedule and pay billions in euros a year in nuclear fuel taxes, are suing the government for 15 billion (Dh69.76bn) total in damages.

The government, which plans to replace much of the nuclear capacity with renewables, is now grappling with the unexpected logistical challenge of connecting planned offshore wind farms in the north with the markets once served in the south, where many nuclear plants had been. Power costs for consumers are expected to rise by between 20 and 60 per cent by 2020.

GDF Suez, an energy company based in Belgium, is expected to downscale its nuclear its business after the government finalises its strategy for drawing down its reliance on atomic energy, now 57 percent of the nation's energy supply.

Last year its Belgian reactors contributed 1.4bn of its 16.5bn core group earnings, according to Credit Suisse,

And last week shareholders of Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), the embattled operator of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, agreed to allow the company to be nationalised through a final tranche of 1 trillion (Dh460.2 million) in government support.

The amount brings government support for Tepco to 3.5tn since the March 11, 2011 disaster.

While it waits for approval for restart reactors, it is relying on increased imports of diesel and natural gas.

ayee@thenational.ae

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