Bank concedes to anti-nuclear pressure

07 February 2008

The Dutch ING Group has decided not to invest in the Mochovce nuclear build project after pressure from Greenpeace.


Mochovce demonstration


(Image: Greenpeace)

Mochovce is a four-unit nuclear power plant in Slovakia owned by Slovenské Elektrárne (SE). Work is currently underway to complete two of the Russian-design VVER-440 pressurized water reactors. The other two were completed in 1998 and 2000 to supply 440 MWe each.


"Taking into account the concerns raised by Greenpeace and others, there will be no financing of this specific project," ING's spokesman Peter Jong told World Nuclear News. He would not elaborate on whether this was evidence of a firm anti-nuclear policy at ING, or an indication of ING's opinion on the ethics of nuclear power investments.


In October 2007 ING was part of a group of nine banks that extended a revolving €800 million ($1.1 billion) credit line to the company over seven years. The loan facility - meant to help SE finance its $4.7 billion investment program - would be unaffected by ING's decision, said Jong.


In recent months Greenpeace has mounted a campaign to persuade European banks not to invest in nuclear projects. It has claimed some success in stopping finance for Bulgaria's forthcoming Belene project. Jan Haverkamp of the group said it had convinced the Italy-based UniCredit group of banks not to invest in Belene. It then applied pressure to UniCredit to maintain the 'no nuclear' policy of its subsidiaries HypoVereinsbank and Bank Austria and avoid the Mochovce project.


UniCredit told WNN that the "perceived risks of nuclear power to future generations" provided a "difficult dilemma". After engagement with stakeholders, including NGOs like Greenpeace, the bank has developed a "selective" internal business policy on nuclear energy, which "allows it to engage in the financing of nuclear power plants, but only under very strict conditions" including the highest technical, legal, health and safety standards and full consultation and environmental assessment. This policy is being implemented by the whole group.


Greenpeace has also attacked SE's Italian parent company, Enel. In April 2007 protestors appeared outside the Italian embassies in Budapest, Bratislava, Warsaw and Prague appealing to Italy not to allow Enel to 'export nuclear risk abroad' by investing in Mochovce. It repeated the message at the World Energy Congress in November 2007 by unfurling a banner behind Enel CEO Fulvio Conti during his speech.


Greenpeace said Italy was "peddling nuclear power outside of Italy like bad olive oil," and noted that the country voted to end domestic nuclear power in 1987 but still relies on imports of nuclear power from close neighbours France and Switzerland.