German utility RWE is to pull out of the Belene nuclear power plant project in Bulgaria following funding constraints, the head of the Bulgarian Energy Holding has announced.

Galina Tosheva told a news conference that RWE sent a letter to the Bulgarian Energy Holding, which has a 51% stake in the project, saying the global downturn and the lack of a scheme on exactly how to fund Belene were the reasons to quit the project, writes Reuters.

Bulgaria’s previous Socialist-led government chose RWE for a 49% stake and teamed up with France’s Areva, Russia’s Atomstroyexport, and Germany’s Siemens to develop the plant.

But the new centre-right government, which won elections in July, reviewed the Belene project, questioning the need for new power capacity and costs that could reach US $15bn (€10bn).