New Build

France’s Engie Exercises Right To Sell 40% Stake in NuGen’s Moorside Nuclear Project

By David Dalton
4 April 2017

4 Apr (NucNet): In another setback for new-build plans in the UK, Toshiba has been forced to buy French utility Engie’s share of a project to build three Westinghouse Generation III+ AP1000 nuclear reactors at Moorside in Cumbria, northwest England.

Engie confirmed today that it was exercising its right to sell its 40% stake in the NuGen venture to Toshiba. This follows the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing last week of the Japanese company’s US-based nuclear unit Westinghouse. Toshiba will pay 15.3 billion yen (€129m, $138.5m) for the stake.

Toshiba is now the sole owner of NuGen, but has said it is looking for more investors to join the Moorside project or to sell out altogether.

In a statement today Engie said NuGen is facing “some significant challenges” which have led Engie to exercise its contractual rights in view of transferring its 40% shares to Toshiba.

“Engie remains willing to put its knowhow and expertise at the service of NuGen and help any restructuring with new potential partners for the development, construction and operation of the project,” the statement said. “Engie, through its affiliates Engie Electrabel, Tractebel, Endel, Engie Axima and engie Ineo, remains an important contributor to the European nuclear industry.”

It was reported last week that South Korea’s biggest power company has been in talks to join the consortium backing Moorside. Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) said it was interested in taking a stake in NuGen.

Kepco’s president, Cho Hwan-eik, said that once the terms of a potential deal were ironed out, “we will be the first to jump into the race”.

UK business secretary Greg Clark will visit Seoul this week in a bid to salvage the Moorside plans. Media reports on 3 April 2017 said Mr Clark will meet senior South Korean government officials and nuclear industry executives to discuss potential investment in Moorside by Kepco.

The Financial Times of London said Toshiba is keen to sell NuGen and Kepco is considered the most plausible buyer.

On 30 March 2017 Westinghouse announced that the AP1000 had passed its regulatory design assessment in the UK.

Two AP1000 units each are in the final stages of completion at the Sanmen and Haiyang sites in China, with an additional two units each under construction at the Summer and Vogtle sites in the US.

Earlier this month, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy reiterated how important nuclear will be to the UK’s future energy security, with projections that showed 38% of power coming from nuclear by 2035, up from 24% last year.

Energy companies are planning to build up to 16 GW of new nuclear capacity in the UK, with the first new reactors expected to be operational in the mid-2020s. This new generation of nuclear power stations will require total investment of at least £60bn (€69bn, $75bn).

The UK has confirmed it is looking at six sites for new nuclear. Hinkley Point C in Somerset, southwest England, has already been confirmed as the site for two EPR units. The other sites are Moorside, Sizewell, Bradwell, Wylffa Newydd and Oldbury.

Three reactor designs are being formally considered: Westinghouse’s AP1000, Areva’s EPR and Hitachi-GE’s Advanced Boiling Water Reactor. China General Nuclear Power Corporation’s HPR1000 or Hualong One, is set to be considered for Bradwell in Essex.

The UK has 15 reactors with a total generating capacity of 8.9 GW. These plants generated 18.9% of the UK’s electricity in 2015. However, all but one is scheduled to be retired by 2030. The exception is Sizewell B, the UK’s only pressurised water reactor, which began operation in 1995.

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