Plans for a new nuclear power station in Cumbria are at risk from the financial crisis engulfing the developer, Toshiba, after the Japanese company announced that it was putting its entire overseas nuclear business under review. Toshiba owns 60 per cent of Nugen, the venture working on plans for a plant at Moorside, near Sellafield. The project would involve three AP1000 reactors designed by Westinghouse, the US company that Toshiba bought in 2006. However, Toshiba is now in turmoil. Nugen has said it wants to take a final investment decision by the end of 2018 in order to generate the first power in about 2025. However, it already faces an uphill battle to secure financing in time. Toshiba and France’s Engie, which owns the remaining 40 per cent of NuGen, have been in talks for months with South Korea’s Kepco and are also understood to be talking to the UK and Japanese governments about potential financial support. Toshiba’s review of its nuclear business, announced yesterday alongside plans to sell a minority stake in its profitable memory chip business, casts further doubt on the timescales of the project. Engie has also sounded increasingly lukewarm about Nugen, with Isabelle Kocher, chief executive, saying last year that there was “a place for nuclear new-build in the world, but less than before”. US nuclear firms can only deal with overseas companies if the countries have a nuclear co-operation agreement. The US holds such an agreement with Euratom but not with the UK, raising the possibility that Westinghouse could be unable to continue working on the project once Britain leaves Euratom until a new bilateral deal is signed.
Times 28th Jan 2017 read more »