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Iberdrola is a private multinational Spanish utility company, which owns ScottishPower in the UK. It is Spain's biggest power company and the world's largest wind generator.


Iberdrola's £11.6bn takeover of ScottishPower was formally approved by shareholders on 30 March 2007, effectively creating Europe's third largest utility company.

The company has subsidiaries in approximately 40 countries, including Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Russia, China, Egypt, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and the United States, among others. [1]

In 2011 Iberdrola had an installed capacity across the globe of 46,026MW of which 7.5 per cent was nuclear. It is the largest Spanish power company with an installed capacity in 2011 of 21,989 MW in Spain (excluding renewables), of which 3,373MW was nuclear.

Iberdrola is probably the world’s largest wind generator with 13,755MW of installed onshore wind capacity in 2012 across 23 countries. It also leads in offshore development with more than 6,300 MW under development in the UK and Germany as well as with licenses recently awarded in France. [2]

UK lobbying and meetings with Energy minister

Between 2010 and 2011, Iberdrola met five times with the UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) Jonathan Marland to discuss 'energy issues'.[3]

A nuclear utility

Nuclear spin.png This article is part of the Nuclear Spin project of Spinwatch.

Iberdrola is a member of the World Nuclear Association,[4] the Spanish Nuclear Industry Forum, [5] and the American Nuclear Energy Institute. [6]


None of Iberdrola’s 6,036 MW installed capacity in the UK (excluding renewables) in 2011 was nuclear. However, it is a 50 per cent joint owner with GDF Suez in the NuGen consortium, which plans to build a new nuclear station next to Sellafield in Cumbria. [7]


In theory the previous Spanish government was committed to phasing out nuclear power, but only "if circumstances permit", according to former Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero speaking to the Spanish parliament in May 2006. There was no specific timetable. Industry Minister, Jose Montilla, had even said the government would consider lifetime extensions for existing reactors. The nuclear industry in Spain was campaigning hard for the phase-out policy to be dropped. [8]

The November 2011 election brought about a change of government, which revisited an earlier decision to close Santa Mazria de Garona, allowing operation to continue until 2019. [9]

Iberdrola owns a share of seven Spanish nuclear reactors:

  • Santa Maria de Garona owned by Nuclenor which is a company jointly owned by Iberdrola and Endesa (Iberdrola’s share 50% of 446MW);
  • Trillo I (48%- 1003MW);
  • Asco II (15% - 992MW);
  • Vandellos II (22% - 1045MW);
  • Cofrentes (100% - 1063MW);
  • Almaraz 1 & 2 (53% of 947MW & 956MW). [10]

The Spanish nuclear phase-out dates back to 1984. This left three Spanish utilities - Iberdrola, Sevillana and Union Fenosa – with a total debt of US$2.6 billion for unfinished nuclear power projects. Five nuclear power stations were in various stages of construction when the moratorium was declared: Lemoniz I and II (Iberdrola) Valdecaballeros I and II (Sevillana) and Trillo II (Union Fenosa). Although this debt was assumed by Spanish banks in 1995, Iberdrola may be wary of investing in further risky nuclear projects. [11]

Iberdrola has substantial nuclear links abroad, mainly forged by its engineering division, which works on a range of power projects including nuclear jobs such as steam generator replacement in Mexico and construction in Romania.

Kalingrad and Russia

Iberdrola's engineering division also leads the company's potential involvement with the project for new reactors in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which sits on the Baltic Sea between Poland and Lithuania. [12] RosEnergoAtom will be the majority shareholder in the Kaliningrad plant; 49 per cent will be available to private investors. Iberdrola is one of the utilities in talks with the Russians about taking a stake. [13] Iberdrola is already working at the Kola, Balakovo and Novovoronezh nuclear power plants in Russia.[14]


Romania's state-owned Nuclearelectrica is trying to complete two reactors: Cernavoda units 3 and 4. In November 2008 an investment agreement setting up a new project company, EnergoNuclear SA, was signed between Nuclearelectrica, with 51 per cent of the project, and Enel, CEZ, GDF Suez, RWE Power (each 9.15 per cent), Iberdrola (6.2 per cent) and ArcelorMittal Galati (6.2 per cent).

However, in 2011 Iberdrola withdrew from the project for commercial reasons. [15]


In recent years Iberdrola may have been trying to downplay its connections with the nuclear industry, by referring to itself as the largest operator of renewable energy in the world. Yet it is a member of a consortium with France's Alstom, which won a contract to expand and modernise Mexico’s only nuclear plant at Laguna Verde. The upgrade is aimed at increasing Laguna Verde's capacity to 1,634 megawatts from 1,365 MW.[16]

In February 2007 the Federal Electricity Commission signed contracts with Iberdrola Engineering and Alstom to fit new turbines and generators to the Laguna Verde plant at a cost of US$ 605 million. The two reactors were then uprated progressively by 138 MWe each from 2008 to January 2011. Their operating life was also extended to 40 years. [17]

Renewable expansion

Iberdrola claims to be the world´s leading wind energy company and one of the largest operators in renewable energies.[18]

The company’s renewable capacity exceeded 14,000MW in early 2012. Iberdrola says it is a leader in the wind power sector in Spain and the UK, holds second place in the USA, and has facilities in Brazil, Mexico, Germany, Portugal, Italy, France, and various countries of Eastern Europe.[19] According to its statistics, in Spain it has 5643MW installed; USA 5,366MW; 1,195MW in the UK and 1,536MW in the rest of the world. [20]


Takeover approved

In 2006 the Spanish energy giant Iberdrola made an £11.6bn takeover bid for ScottishPower. The offer was formally approved by shareholders at an EGM on 30 March 2007, effectively creating Europe's third largest utility company.

The European Commission had cleared Iberdrola's proposed ScottishPower deal in mid-February 2007. [21] After a meeting between the Iberdrola management and Scotland’s First Minister, it became clear that the Spanish company was committed to the existing investment programme of ScottishPower at Longannet coal-fired station (to meet the requirements of the Large Combustion Plant Directive which imposes strict limits on sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions) and in renewables. The First Minister said: “… most importantly for the longer term they have opened up the opportunity for us in Scotland to bid for and to secure further investment in Scotland in the energy industry”. [22]

World leader in renewables

Iberdrola's claim to be the largest owner and operator of renewable energy facilities in the world, and its clear interest in wind energy may be the reason it bought ScottishPower. ScottishPower's vision was also to be a world leader in renewables. In 2011, ScottishPower Renewables became the first UK developer to reach an installed generating capacity of 1,000 MW. With a pipeline including 10,000 MW of offshore wind, and the 10 MW world-first tidal energy array in the Sound of Islay, ScottishPower Renewables is among the UK’s leading renewable energy developers.[23]

Caution over new nuclear build

ScottishPower had not demonstrated any great enthusiasm for new nuclear reactors in Scotland. In its response to the Department of Trade and Industry's 2006 Energy Review consultation, the company cautioned against the government becoming too pro-nuclear because of the concern about being too dependent on imported gas for electricity generation. ScottishPower said it did not believe a major programme of nuclear construction was needed yet. It added that:

By 2020 there should be clearer evidence of the economics of new nuclear and of clean coal. There is no need to take premature action at this time that means the UK follows an irrevocable path that potentially abandons embryonic technologies that could emerge with some support as the solution of the future - clean coal being one of those technologies.[24][25]

Cockenzie plans

In October 2011, Scottish Power received planning consent for a new 1000MW Combined Cycle Gas Turbine power station on the site of the existing Cockenzie coal power plant, in East Lothian. [26] The current coal power station is nearing the end of its operational life and will close in March 2013. [27]


Scottish Power also owns and runs Longannet in Fife, Longannet, which is the UK's second largest coal-fired power station and Europe's third largest, and among the biggest polluters in the country. It has a capacity of 2,400MW and emits between seven million and eight million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year. Plans for the UK's first carbon capture and storage facility at Longannet were dropped in October 2011. According to the Energy Secretary at the time, Chris Huhne, the length of pipeline needed to take the CO2 to the undersea reservoirs made the Longannet scheme "unviable".[28]

A merger made on the wind?

Forbes Magazine said Scottish Power would fit well with Iberdrola. Scottish Power already had 14 wind farms throughout Britain and Ireland. Its US business, PPM Energy, operated cogeneration power plants and wind farms. Iberdrola had already acquired two wind farms in Britain in 2006, and signed a tentative agreement to build a 1,000 megawatt wind farm in northern China. [29] It has also agreed to invest over $1 billion on wind farms in Turkey. [30]

At the time of the merger it was reported that ACS, one of the world's largest building and services groups, was trying to increase its stake in Iberdrola from 10 per cent to 25 per cent to gain a decisive stake in the combined business, which would be the world's biggest renewable energy company. [31] ACS had increased its share to over 14 per cent by January 2007. [32]

However in April 2012 ACS sold a 3.7 percent stake in Iberdrola triggering speculation that the builder was reversing its initial strategy to gain control of the utility. Then in July ACS signed a three-year deal with Societe Generale to refinance a loan it used to buy part of a 14.85 percent stake in Iberdrola. ACS, headed by self-made billionaire Florentino Perez who also runs soccer club Real Madrid, said it will take a decision on the future of its investment in Iberdrola in three years' time. [33]

In 2004, WWF ranked global power companies according to the amount of renewable energy and gas-fired CHP installed and planned. In Europe Iberdrola and ScottishPower came out top. [34]


  1. Reuters website, Iberdrola SA., accessed 29 August 2012
  2. Renewable Energy Business, Iberdrola website, accessed 29 August 2012.
  3. Who's Lobbying, Jonathan Marland, undated, acc 21 June 2012
  4. World Nuclear Association website
  5. Spanish Nuclear Industry Website
  6. By virtue of its membership of the Spanish Nuclear Industry Forum.Nuclear Energy Institute website, accessed 29 August 2012
  7. Liberalised Business, Iberdrola website, accessed 29 August 2012.
  8. Nuclear Monitor, 14 July, 2006.
  9. Nuclear Power in Spain World Nuclear Association Briefing July 2012, accessed 29 August 2012.
  10. Nuclear Power in Spain World Nuclear Association Briefing July 2012, accessed 29 August 2012.
  11. Spanish banks to assume nuclear debt, Wise News Communique, 21 July, 1995.
  12. Iberdrola looks for new build opportunities, World Nuclear News 6 August 2009, accessed 29 August 2012.
  13. Imminent construction of Baltic nuclear power plant, World Nuclear News 8 February 2012. Accessed 29 August 2012.
  14. Nuclear Power in Russia World Nuclear Association Country Briefings, 22 August 2012, accessed 29 August 2012.
  15. China may invest in Romanian reactors World Nuclear News 21 October 2011, accessed 29 August 2012.
  16. Mexico has Three Bids to Upgrade Nuclear Plant, Reuters, 19 January, 2007. Also: Alsom, Iberdrola poised to win Mexico Nuclear Power Plant Contract Forbes, 22 January, 2007. Platts Nuclear News Flashes, 2 March, 2007
  17. Nuclear Power in Mexico, World Nuclear Association Briefing, July 2012, accessed 29 August 2012.
  18. Iberdrola website, accessed 29 August 2012.
  19. Iberdrola Annual Report 2011 accessed 29 August 2012.
  20. Renewable Energy Business, Iberdrola website, accessed 29 August 2012
  21. Nick Bevens, EU gives ScottishPower takeover the green light Scotsman 16 February, 2007.
  22. Executive Meets with Iberdrola, Scottish Executive Press Release, 5 December, 2006
  23. Scottish Power Renewables website, accessed 29 August 2012.
  24. Our Energy Challenge – ScottishPower Response ScottishPower, April, 2006
  25. Ian McConnell, Scottish Power warns on nuclear government should not commit to major build, The Herald, 14 April, 2007.
  26. Scottish Power Press Release 5 October 2011, accessed August 2012.
  27. Scottish Power Press Release 15 March 2012, accessed 29 August 2012
  28. Longannet carbon capture scheme scrapped, BBC 19 October 2011, accessed 29 August 2012.
  29. Spanish Scottish Match in Thin Air Forbes, 8 November, 2006.
  30. Spanish Iberdrola plans to build Wind Farms in Turkey, Turkish Weekly, 6 November, 2006.
  31. Douglas Friedli ACS targets 25% of Iberdrola Scotland on Sunday, 3 December, 2006.
  32. ACS takes Additional 2.3 pct of Iberdrola via Equity Swap Contract Forbes, 23 January, 2007.
  33. ACS refinancing deal provides some Iberdrola relief, Reuters 13 July 2012, accessed 29th August 2012.
  34. Ranking Power: Scorecards for Electricity Companies WWF Powerswitch Campaign, November 2004.