Unwelcome News ; Chinese Seek Stake In Moorside (Sellafield) Nuclear Plant

China’s state—backed nuclear company is hoping to take an equity stake in the troubled £10bn Moorside nuclear plant being developed by debt—hit Toshiba in Cumbria. The Japanese conglomerate is on the hunt for a project partner to safeguard Europe’s largest planned new nuclear plant after France’s multinational electric utility company (Engie) pulled out of the venture in the wake of Toshiba’s spiralling financial troubles.

China General Nuclear (CGN) yesterday confirmed its interest in the 3.8GW project in exchange for an equity share, in a move which would deepen its involvement in the UK’s nuclear plans. The Chinese firm has already teamed up with EDF Energy to finance a third of the Hinkley Point C project in Somerset and a fifth of its Sizewell C nuclear plans in Suffolk. CGN also has a 66% stake in the venture that is looking to build the Bradwell C nuclear plant in Essex.

CGN joins South Korea’s Kepco which voiced an interest in the project this summer. The South Korean state—backed utility has harboured an interest in Moorside since 2013, but said it would want to use its own nuclear design rather than one made by Toshiba’s Westinghouse nuclear business. CGN is also likely to want to use its own reactor design at Moorside. However, it will take at least four years before CGN’s reactor design could be approved by the nuclear authority for use in tbe UK. A lengthy approval process would also be required of a Kepco reactor design which could derail the 2025 start date by at least two years. Westinghouse plunged into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US earlier this year after amassing losses of $9bn (£6.6bn) for Toshiba due to a string of struggling US projects.

from The Daily Telegraph 20th September 2017