Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Plans for a new Cumbrian nuclear power station dealt potentially fatal blow

Toshiba chairman and CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani attends a press conference in Tokyo. — AFP Toshiba chairman and CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani attends a press conference in Tokyo. — AFP
Rhonda Young | 10 November, 2018, 14:31

Moorside was expected to provide 7% of United Kingdom power demand and the decision has dealt a blow to the government's plans to build a fleet of new large-scale nuclear power plants.

A BEIS spokesperson added: "All proposed new nuclear projects in the United Kingdom are led by private sector developers and while the government has engaged regularly with the companies involved, this is entirely a commercial decision for Toshiba".

"The ministry plans to closely co-ordinate with the British government on the Moorside project while monitoring the NuGen liquidation process with Kepco", South Korea's ministry of trade, industry and energy said in a statement.

Toshiba said its NuGen business would start being wound up in the new year.

Plans to build a new nuclear power station in the United Kingdom, creating over 20,000 jobs, have collapsed after Toshiba said it was pulling out of the project.

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The Moorside project in northwest England was expected to provide around 7 percent of Britain's electricity, but faced setbacks after Toshiba's nuclear arm Westinghouse went bankrupt past year.

The decision was announced during the board of directors' meeting yesterday, following 18 months of failed negotiations with a range of potential new buyers for the company and the project. It said it hoped to complete the sale by March 2019.

The Japanese firm had been trying to sell NuGen, with the United Kingdom government also seeking new investors, but Toshiba admitted defeat on Thursday.

The other stemmed back to early 2017 when the then Toshiba subsidiary Westinghouse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States of America in early 2017 - a move which ultimately led Toshiba to divest from overseas nuclear projects and pursue the sale of NuGen.

Since then, Toshiba has been trying to find a buyer for the project.

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"In the wreckage that passes for a joined-up United Kingdom energy policy, the question now is whether Government has finally learned the mistakes of Moorside?"

Under the ownership of Toshiba, Westinghouse had been poised to develop three of its AP1000 reactors at Moorside, but the plans disintegrated after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US in early 2017 having overpaid by several billion dollars for another nuclear construction and services business. Toshiba's decision to wind up NuGen suggests a deal with Brookfield looks unlikely.

Cumbria's leading politicians have called for the Government to do all it can to make sure Moorside goes ahead.

Earlier this week, GMB national secretary Justin Bowden called for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to be scrapped and a nuclear development authority to be created to develop a small modular reactor on the site.

"The lessons from the collapse of Toshiba should have been well and truly learned long ago - relying on foreign companies and countries for our essential energy needs is utterly irresponsible".

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