Plans to build a new nuclear power station in Cumbria have suffered a set-back following Toshiba’s decision to wind up NuGen, the company set up to build the plant.
NuGen planned to develop a new-generation nuclear power station of up to 3.6GW on land in Moorside, West Cumbria at a cost of around £10bn.
Toshiba became the sole owner of NuGen in 2017 when it bought Engie’s share in the company, an event triggered by Toshiba subsidiary Westinghouse Electric Company filing for bankruptcy in the US.
Toshiba has since invited new investors to participate in NuGen but doesn’t foresee a sale of the company during the current financial year. The Regulated Asset Base (RAB model), a potential new policy framework from government to finance nuclear new build, is also thought to have deterred new investors into Moorside.
“After considering the additional costs entailed in continuing to operate NuGen, Toshiba recognises that the economically rational decision is to withdraw from the UK nuclear power plant construction project,” the company said.
In a statement Toshiba added it will start the winding-up process by January 31, 2019.
Reacting to today’s news Justin Bowden, GMB national secretary, said:“The British government has blood on its hands as the final sad but predictable nail is banged into the coffin of Toshiba’s jinxed jaunt into nuclear power.
“Relying in this way on foreign companies for our country’s essential energy needs was always irresponsible.
“Add to that the multiple opportunities to step in and take control, that were missed or ignored.
“In the wreckage that passes for a joined-up UK energy policy, the question now is whether government has finally learned the mistakes of Moorside?”
The Moorside site is owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and remains a site designated by government for nuclear new build.
Commenting on the announcement, Dr Dame Sue Ion DBE FREng FRS, Honorary President of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear said: “It is tragic that ceding of control of a vital part of the UK’s energy infrastructure overseas has, through events outside the UK’s control, led to a stall in our aspirations as a nation to replace the generating capacity of our retiring nuclear fleet of reactors – critical for decarbonising the UK economy. It is also devastating for the employees of NuGen who have worked so hard for the past decade to deliver a new nuclear project which would have delivered energy for generations to come.
“A lack of clarity from the UK on the funding model and its timing for developing new nuclear power capacity has contributed to a reluctance to invest by the private sector. There is now significant uncertainty over the intentions for the valuable Moorside site in Cumbria. It is vital that the impetus, knowledge and know-how generated by NuGen are not lost, but are built on as the UK drives towards a future funding model for nuclear power plants.”