Toshiba can­cels UK nu­clear plant

Business Day - - INTERNATIONAL COMPANIES - Sabina Zawadzki and Su­sanna Twidale Lon­don

Ja­pan’s Toshiba says it will scrap a Bri­tish nu­clear plant project af­ter fail­ing to find an in­vest­ment part­ner, but South Korea in­di­cated it is still in­ter­ested in build­ing a re­ac­tor at the site.

The Moor­side project in north­west Eng­land was ex­pected to pro­vide about 7% of Bri­tain’s elec­tric­ity, but faced set­backs af­ter Toshiba’s nu­clear arm West­ing­house went bank­rupt in 2017.

It was part of Bri­tain’s ef­forts to build a new fleet of nu­clear re­ac­tors to re­place age­ing coal and other nu­clear plants due to close in the 2020s. New projects have strug­gled due to high costs and weak elec­tric­ity prices.

“Whilst NuGen will not be tak­ing the project for­ward, the Moor­side site in Cum­bria re­mains a site des­ig­nated by gov­ern­ment for nu­clear new build,” NuGen, the Toshiba busi­ness in Bri­tain, said.

It said it is now up to the Nu­clear Decom­mis­sion­ing Au­thor­ity as the owner and the gov­ern­ment to de­ter­mine the site’s fu­ture.

NuGen had been try­ing to sell its busi­ness for 18 months but it is now be­ing liq­ui­dated.

South Korea’s Korea Elec­tric Power Cor­po­ra­tion (Kepco) had been a pre­ferred bid­der but lost that sta­tus in July as de­lays to con­clud­ing a deal dragged on. How­ever, South Korea’s en­ergy min­istry said it would talk with the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment.

“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.

Kepco had said it wanted to use its own nu­clear re­ac­tor de­sign for the project, which has not been sub­mit­ted for ap­proval from Bri­tain’s nu­clear reg­u­la­tor.

UK em­ploy­ment unions Unite and GMB called on the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment to step in to help save the Moor­side project, which NuGen said would cre­ate tens of thou­sands of di­rect and in­di­rect jobs in the area.

The gov­ern­ment said all pro­posed new nu­clear projects in Bri­tain are be­ing led by pri­vate­sec­tor de­vel­op­ers.

“While the gov­ern­ment has en­gaged reg­u­larly with the com­pa­nies in­volved, this is en­tirely a com­mer­cial de­ci­sion for Toshiba,” said a depart­ment of busi­ness, en­ergy and in­dus­trial strat­egy spokesper­son.

Toshiba had also held talks about sell­ing the project with Canada’s Brook­field As­set Man­age­ment but they also fell through, a source told Reuters last month.

The UK gov­ern­ment has come un­der fire for the costs of new nu­clear plants, in par­tic­u­lar Hink­ley Point C in south­west Eng­land that is due to come on­line in 2025 and is be­ing built by France’s EDF along with China Gen­eral Nu­clear Power.

It has said it would con­sider in­vest­ing di­rectly into the Wylfa Newydd plant in Wales to be built by Ja­pan’s Hi­tachi in an at­tempt to keep the costs down.

/Reuters

Power out­age: Toshiba has pulled out of build­ing a nu­clear plant at Moor­side in Bri­tain af­ter the Ja­panese com­pany’s nu­clear arm went bank­rupt in 2017.

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