British Energy’s share price rose 5.5% following the announcement of better than expected half-year profits on 11 November. BE made an interim pre-tax profit for the period 1 April to 30 September 1998 of £46 million, up from £4 million for the equivalent period of 1997. Turnover rose from £871 million in 1997 to £935 million. Traditionally energy companies’ profits are lower during the first half of the financial year as energy demand is lower in the summer.
Commenting on the results BE chairman John Robb increased the speculation regarding BE’s future plans.
“We are looking closely at the opportunities presented as a result of recent developments in the UK electricity market, particularly vertical integration and the acquisition of flexible generating plant,” said Robb.
BE is also looking to purchase nuclear plant in North America following its joint venture with PECO Energy to buy Three Mile Island 1 (See NEI, Aug p2).
“The Ontario government has postponed consideration of our proposal for a private/public partnership regarding the nuclear plant of Ontario Hydro,” said Robb. “Nevertheless, British Energy believes that opportunities will develop here and we continue to monitor the situation closely.” Robb also said that all essential work to address the millenium bug problem will be completed by the end of 1998.
BE’s cumulative output to the end of October was 38.9 TWh, 3% higher than last year. The company is benefiting from two fewer statutory outages this year than the last one and is confident that the final year figures will be good.
BE’s Hollins pushes carbon trading
Peter Hollins, chief executive officer of British Energy, has called for the development of a carbon trading system to tackle global warming. Speaking at an Institute for Economic Affairs energy conference, Hollins argued that a carbon tax or efforts at energy conservation are unlikely to have much impact on CO2 emissions.
“What is required is tradable carbon permits which would have the effect of stimulating sources of electricity which do not release carbons, such as nuclear and renewables. Under these conditions new nuclear building would rapidly become economic,” he said