RWE npower - a UK subsidiary of Germany's RWE - has secured options to buy land at two sites for possible new nuclear power plants on the Cumbrian coast in northwest England. One of the sites already has an offer of a grid connection.
Both sites, currently farmland, have coastal access. One is located in mid-Copeland, near the Sellafield nuclear complex, and the other in south Copeland, in the Millom area. The mid-Copeland site has received a 3600 MWe grid connection offer, while a grid connection offer for the southern site is expected in the next few months.
"We intend to secure at
least two [further] sites
in the NDA's auction
Andrew Duff, CEO, RWE npower
RWE said its priority now was to consult with local people before making any firm plans. It said that is has begun discussions with local representatives and groups. It is anticipated that both sites will be nominated into the government's Strategic Siting Assessment (SSA) process before the 31 March deadline.
Andrew Duff, CEO of RWE npower, said: "We are serious and committed to the development of new nuclear power stations in the UK. We have already secured land options and a grid connection at Wylfa on the island of Anglesey and, through our joint venture with EOn, we intend to secure at least two sites in the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority's (NDA's) auction next month. These sites in West Cumbria build our nuclear development portfolio even further. Cumbria's established skills base and nuclear heritage makes it a very strong location."
He added, "Nuclear power will be a vital part of the country's cleaner, future energy mix and will bring multimillion pound benefits to local economies, along with thousands of jobs."
Dave Gardner, head of nuclear projects at RWE npower, commented: "We believe both these sites have strong potential for new nuclear build. Together with the NDA's land at Sellafield, they will help realise Cumbria's 'Energy Coast' vision through the development of new reactors in the region."
In January, RWE and EOn formed a joint venture for new nuclear development in the UK. The 50:50 joint venture intends to secure sites being sold in March by the NDA at Wylfa on Anglesey, Oldbury in Gloucestershire, and Bradwell in Essex. Its objective is to license, construct and operate at least 6000 MWe of new nuclear power capacity in the UK. RWE said that it would discuss the joint development of its Cumbrian sites with EOn once the NDA auction is completed.
RWE has already acquired options to buy 55 hectares of land at Wylfa with potential for nuclear development adjacent to the existing nuclear power plant. It has also secured a 3600 MWe grid connection at that site, enough capacity for two or three large reactors. EOn also has secured a grid connection agreement and sufficient land for nuclear new build at Oldbury in Gloucestershire. The land at Wylfa and Oldbury is to be nominated into the government's SSA process. Local support
Jamie Reed, Member of Parliament for Copeland, said: "We have worked hard to showcase the development opportunities for new nuclear in Copeland, and now major international utilities are demonstrating their faith in the ideas underpinning our Energy Coast plan."
He added, "Both sites could house at least two new reactors and it's now time for these proposals to be presented to the local communities adjacent to the proposed sites so that all of the details can be understood and local opinions listened to and acted upon. This is a very welcome announcement from a major company - they clearly share our ambitions for the development of Britain's Energy Coast. New nuclear build is a commitment to our economy, to our environment and to the security of our energy supplies."
Nuclear new build is a key component of the UK government's 'Energy Coast' plan - a £2 billion ($3 billion) package of regeneration projects which aims to establish West Cumbria as a UK hub for low carbon and renewable energy production. The plan aims to build on the area's nuclear strengths and diversify into other forms of energy production, such as tidal, wave and biomass.
In early February, the cabinet of Cumbria County Council agreed that the council should back an NDA-led nomination of the Sellafield site as a possible location for new nuclear power plants. Tim Knowles, Cumbria County Council's cabinet member responsible for nuclear issues, said: "Sellafield must be a clear candidate for the next generation of nuclear power stations. It makes sense for Cumbria because a nuclear industry is already well embedded in communities here and the skills exist in the workforce to make it happen should a developer step forward."