Toshiba takes majority stake in NuGen

14 January 2014

Toshiba has agreed to buy a 10% stake of the UK's NuGeneration (NuGen) consortium from GDF Suez, taking its total stake in the project to 60%.

AP1000 cutaway
A cutaway of the AP1000, three of which are planned by NuGen for Moorside
(Image: Westinghouse)

In late December 2013, the company agreed to buy Iberdrola's 50% stake in NuGen - the would-be developer of the proposed Moorside nuclear power plant in Cumbria - for £85 million ($139 million). Today Westinghouse confirmed that its majority owner Toshiba of Japan has agreed in principle to buy a further 10% of the project from GDF Suez, leaving that firm with the remaining 40%.

Westinghouse said that Toshiba "intends to move forward with the AP1000 new-build project in partnership with GDF Suez." It said that the agreement between the companies provides for the construction of three AP1000 units with a combined capacity of 3.4 GWe at the Moorside site. The first unit is expected to begin operating in 2024. Toshiba and Westinghouse said they "will seek further opportunities to build AP1000 reactors in Europe and other key geographies."

NuGen was originally owned 37.5% each by Spain's Iberdrola and GDF Suez of Belgium, and 25% by Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE), with Iberbrola and GDF Suez becoming 50:50 owners after SSE decided to withdraw from the project in 2011. The consortium has an option to purchase the 190 hectare site to the north of the Sellafield complex from the UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Agency. The plot of land and the plant project are called Moorside.

Westinghouse senior vice president for nuclear power plants Jeffrey Benjamin commented, "This project supports the UK government's policy for new nuclear development - the timetable to operation, financial robustness, proven technology, and the project's overall benefit to the UK economy." The GMB union's energy spokesman, Gary Smith, said, "West Cumbria has skills in the nuclear sector that are second to none. This would be a huge boost to the local economy if this power station gets the go-ahead."

The AP1000 is in the final stages of generic design assessment (GDA) by UK regulators. The GDA forms part of the approval process for new reactor projects in the UK, allowing regulators to assess the safety, security and environmental implications of new reactor designs separately from applications to build them at specific sites. To complete the process the AP1000 needs a customer and a specific site for certain engineering details.

The involvement of Toshiba in NuGen means that all UK nuclear new build projects feature part or full ownership by a reactor vendor. Areva will take a 10% stake in Hinkley Point C, while Hitachi owns Horizon, which is planning new reactors at Wylfa.

For GDF Suez, the new partnership with a reactor vendor forms a pair with its project for the Sinop site in Turkey where it shares a 50-50 joint venture with Mitsubishi and Areva to build Atmea1 units. The company's chairman and CEO, Gérard Mestrallet, said the NuGen deal "reflects our strong ambition in the nuclear field and confirms our strategic decision to promote a diversified, balanced and low-carbon energy mix where nuclear power has its place."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News