22.09.2017_No190 / News in Brief

Union Says Chinese Investment Is Not Solution To Moorside Problems

Plans & Construction

A computer-generated image of the Moorside nuclear station. Photo courtesy NuGen.

22 Sep (NucNet): A bid by China General Nuclear (CGN) for a stake in the planned Moorside nuclear station in northwest England is not the solution to the problems faced by the project, the energy union GMB said in a statement on 21 September 2017. State-backed CGN confirmed earlier this week that it is in the running to shore up the Moorside project in exchange for an equity share. GMB, which has more than 600,000 members, said the project has been beset by a number of setbacks in recent months beginning with Toshiba’s US arm Westinghouse, which is producing three AP1000 reactors for Moorside, filing for bankruptcy. This led to Toshiba chairman Shigenori Shiga stepping down and French investors Engie walking away from the Moorside project, GMB said. A CGN spokesman said this week the company is prepared to bid for an equity investment in NuGen, the UK-based consortium that plans to build and operate Moorside. Toshiba has full ownership of NuGen, but has said it will no longer serve as a contractor of engineering, procurement and construction for overseas nuclear projects after recording a loss of $8.8bn in 2016. Moorside is scheduled to come online in the mid-2020s and provide 7% of Britain’s electricity. GMB national secretary Justin Bowden said the latest offer of overseas “aid” to the project, this time by the Chinese government, suggests the lessons of Toshiba have still to be learned. “Britain vitally needs a new fleet of nuclear power stations to replace the existing ageing fleet and ensure we have zero-carbon electricity that is not reliant on the sun shining or the wind blowing,” Mr Bowden said. But Mr Bowden said keeping the lights on and powering UK industries is a state function and “this makes the UK government the lender of last resort”. He said most members of the public will be looking on in continued bewilderment at the “financing pantomime” surrounding Moorside and asking why the UK government has not stepped in rather than looking for another government to take responsibility. “The UK civil nuclear industry was once the envy of the world,” he said. “Going cap in hand to the Chinese, Koreans or whoever, is not the solution when Moorside and new nuclear should be a key cornerstone of government-led UK industrial strategy.” The cost of the three Moorside units has been put at around £15bn (€17bn, $20bn). Westinghouse’s filling for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, along with Toshiba’s financial woes, has given rise to uncertainty around the Moorside project. CGN has already signed a number of agreements for three new-build projects in the UK in partnership with France’s EDF. CGN has a one-third share in Hinkley Point C, 20% stake in Sizewell C, and 66.5% stake in Bradwell B. In March 2017, South Korea’s biggest power company Korea Electric Power Corporation expressed its interest to take a stake in NuGen.

Related reports in the NucNet database (available to subscribers):

  • China’s CGN Considering Investment In UK’s Moorside AP1000 Project, Says State Media (News in Brief No.188, 20 September 2017)

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NucNet

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David Dalton

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