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Moorside Nuclear Braced For Toshiba PullOut

February 4, 2017

By Paul Homewood




This story is behind a paywall at the FT, but other sites, such as this one at World Money Grid, have picked it up:


One of the new nuclear plants that Britain is relying on for energy security in coming decades has been plunged into doubt as Toshiba reviews the future of its crisis-hit nuclear power business.

The UK government is bracing for the withdrawal of Toshiba from the Moorside project in Cumbria as the Japanese conglomerate faces a multibillion-dollar writedown stemming from losses in its US nuclear division.

Toshiba said last week that it would “reconsider the future of the overseas nuclear business” and there is a growing acceptance within the UK government and nuclear industry that Moorside will need new backers if the project is to survive.

Moorside is among the most advanced of several new nuclear plants planned by the UK to replace old reactors due to be taken out of service in years ahead and dirty coal-fired power stations set to be phased out completely by 2025.

So far only one of these proposed plants — to be built by EDF of France at Hinkley Point in Somerset — has been given a formal go-ahead but Moorside, near to the existing Sellafield nuclear site, is among the next in line for construction. It would sit in the parliamentary constituency of Copeland where a by-election will be held on February 23.

Collapse of Moorside would be a blow for the area because nuclear power has been one of the biggest employers in west Cumbria since the world’s first commercial nuclear reactors were opened at Sellafield in the 1950s. Supporters of the project are looking for government assurances on the project’s future.

“It looks increasingly like bad business investments may have busted Toshiba’s role . . . at Moorside,” said Justin Bowden, national secretary of the GMB union. “The time is right for the UK government to . . . fill any funding gaps.”

The UK government has signalled its willingness to consider investing in nuclear power by entering talks with the Japanese government about financing for a different project led by Hitachi, another Japanese conglomerate, at Wylfa in Anglesey, according to people briefed on the discussions.

Direct UK government financing would represent a big shift in policy; until recently Whitehall has balked at exposing public money to the high costs and risks involved in nuclear reactor construction. However, people involved in discussions with the government say Theresa May’s administration is more open to the idea as part of its wider ambitions to rebuild the UK nuclear supply chain and maintain energy security.

It looks increasingly like bad business investments may have busted Toshiba’s role … at Moor

It was already known that Toshiba’s financial problems would require the recruitment of additional investors to keep Moorside on track but new reactor technology may now also be needed if the Japanese company pulls out altogether.

That could open an opportunity for Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco), the South Korean energy group, to offer its APR-1400 reactor as a replacement for the AP1000 model built by Toshiba’s US nuclear unit, Westinghouse.

Multiple people in the nuclear industry said this was the most realistic chance of salvaging the project if Toshiba quits because South Korea was already known to be keen on entering the UK nuclear market.

Kepco has been in negotiations for months about investing in Nugen, the consortium made up of Toshiba and Engie of France which is planning to build Moorside, according to people involved in the process.

Until recently, this was seen as an opportunity for Kepco to establish a foothold in the UK before seeking openings for its own technology in subsequent projects. But Toshiba’s likely exit is rousing speculation that Kepco could take leadership at Moorside.

Government needs to create the right conditions for countries like China, Korea and Russia to come to the UK, invest and build

The first APR-1400 reactor near Busan in South Korea became operational last year and further seven reactors are under construction in Korea and in the United Arab Emirates.

Nugen had been aiming to have its power station online by the mid 2020s but the replacement of Westinghouse technology with the APR-1400 would set construction back at least the four years it would take for the Korean reactor to gain approval from the UK nuclear regulator.

Toshiba declined to comment and Kepco could not immediately be reached for comment.

Tim Yeo, chairman of New Nuclear Watch Europe, a group which advocates for nuclear power, said international vendors should be invited to compete in an open tender. “Government needs to create the right conditions for countries like China, Korea and Russia to come to the UK, invest and build,” he said.

The British government last month gave the go-ahead for the Office for Nuclear Regulation, the UK regulator, to start assessing the Hualong One reactor that China General Nuclear, a Chinese government-owned company, is planning to use at a proposed plant at Bradwell, Essex. However, some people in government are cautious about the security implications of adopting Chinese nuclear technology.


If true, this opens up a barrel load of problems for UK energy policy.

With EDF ever more unlikely to build another plant after Hinkley, the Moorside project was being banked on to provide the baseload desperately needed to replace fossil fuel plants.

The only alternative is fitting CCS technology to CCGT plants, but this looks as much of a pipedream as ever.

Whichever way we jump, it seems our future energy security is in the hands of foreign governments. How on earth did we get to this predicament?

  1. JasG permalink
    February 4, 2017 9:42 pm

    “How on earth did we get to this predicament?”


    Ending the CEGB ended the plans for the new fleet of PWRs. Bizarrely Steven Littlechilds untested free market experiment to remove UK taxpayers from ownership of UK energy ended with French taxpayers owning it instead. Not content with that fiasco, privatising the National Grid ensured it turned into the new Enron and it wont be too long before foreigners own that too.

    • February 5, 2017 9:36 am

      Yes, ending the CEGB and then having 13 years of an anti-nuclear Blair/Brown government finished off our nuclear capability. Instead we would have had a fleet of 5 PWRs like Sizewell B. We would have retained and increased our nuclear capability. We would probably have still owned Westinghouse and would have already built. or at least started building a fleet of AP1000s. Thinking back, it is at least 20 years since I did some work for Westinghouse on the fore-runner of the AP1000, namely the AP600, and Westinghouse had been working on it for about 10 years before that. It is amazing to think how the nuclear industry in the USA and Europe has stagnated for at least 20 years. 20 wasted years which has allowed the Far Eastern countries to become the lead players in nuclear power design and construction and 20 years in which the UK has not has a sane energy policy.

    • David Richardson permalink
      February 5, 2017 9:43 am

      Well JasG there is a lot to agree with in what you say, especially if you deplore the steady erosion of UK engineering and science in my lifetime as do I. Degeneracy is the word that comes to mind.

      BUT you might just be looking for confirmation bias in conflating several issues, related though they are. Our motor industry is similarly foreign owned for similar underlying shortcomings. Many other countries manage to run a privately owned network well enough.

      Privatisation was not all bad. The power generation industry was very overmantel and is now probably underpinned. A consequence of lack of proper government oversight in both eras.

      The problem comes from introducing a market and then interfering with it. It is like sawing the legs on a table to get it to stop wobbling. We are not the only ones struggling – see Germany’s mess.

      The real problem lies in having a bunch of politicians only 1% of whom have a science or engineering background; aided by an equally inadequate Civil Service, who are on the climate change koolaid.

      • David Richardson permalink
        February 5, 2017 9:46 am

        Overmanned and undermanned – I must switch off the autocorrection.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      February 5, 2017 7:42 pm

      Government meddling in things it doesn’t understand as well as heaping regulatory costs on nuclear plants. There has never been a free market in the energy industry to allow privatisation to work properly.

  2. February 4, 2017 9:55 pm

    The area features in the Copeland bi-election
    There is pro nuclear pressure from the Prospect union.

  3. February 4, 2017 9:56 pm

    “Direct UK government financing would represent a big shift in policy; until recently Whitehall has balked at exposing public money to the high costs and risks involved in nuclear reactor construction”

    Well duh, maybe that is why nuclear is so expensive, private money looks at the worst possible outcome, then adds profits.

    With Labour repeating the Milliband price-freeze trick, why would anyone invest in ANY conventional power station?

    This keeps returning to the same conclusion, the system has to change to one in which new power stations are paid for up-front, some body has to decide what type of power stations are needed, then buy them.

  4. Dave Ward permalink
    February 4, 2017 10:07 pm

    “With EDF ever more unlikely to build another plant after Hinkley”

    Does anyone honestly know if Hinkley will ever be completed, and provide power to the grid?

    • 1saveenergy permalink
      February 4, 2017 11:26 pm

      “Does anyone honestly know if Hinkley will ever be completed, ”

      Let’s hope not..
      Bad design,
      Bad implementation,
      Bad business…
      other than that it’s fine

  5. It doesn't add up... permalink
    February 5, 2017 12:16 am

    The Korean route is probably the one to go for. We need to secure a JV with Kepco that allows us to tap into the technology, while helping them with global marketing.

    Why Korea? There are lots of reasons when you discover about their nuclear industry:
    Perhaps most importantly, they seem able to deliver a station that works at a sensible price on a reasonable timescale – less than half of Hinkley Point’s cost per MW. Secondly, because they are building plenty of stations both at home and abroad, there is a good learning curve benefit from standardised designs. Thirdly, there should be lots of opportunity to offer services in such areas as fuel reprocessing and financing where the UK has some strengths to help with Korean exports. Fourthly, if we can get in on building some of the capacity ourselves we can develop exports of high value added components – just the sort of trade we need. Fifthly, by partnering with them we would have an inside track on proliferation risks in some of their export markets, and be in a position to help them enforce non proliferation.

    • tom0mason permalink
      February 5, 2017 9:46 am

      Why should the UK go for a Korean nuke? After all it has none of the real political benefits of the other offerings being as it is a cost effective, proven design with good reliability. What British (or European) politician could possibly allow good engineering triumph when political chicanery fits the bill.

      • John Palmer permalink
        February 5, 2017 7:55 pm


  6. February 5, 2017 6:42 am

    The UK should be thoroughly ashamed of the decimation of its nuclear power industry.
    South Korea is an example for us all.

  7. AlecM permalink
    February 5, 2017 10:10 am

    There appears to be a hidden agenda here. Building new nukes is necessary for the windmills and solar cells to provide power to a functioning Power Grid. Therefore the best way to curb this rent-seeking is to threaten to make the Grid unstable unless the Renewables’ Mafia take on at least part of the responsibility.

    Meanwhile, a stealth approach would be to introduce mass domestic and small business CHP via fuel cells to replace the Diesel STOR approach, which is given far higher subsidies than windmills.

    A week ago, Centrica divested its last windmill interests stating it would now concentrate on the domestic market. What better way to solve the problem: 10 million fuel cells plus mass fraccing would dramatically save on gas use for a given hat plus electricity use, make a massive earnings stream from daytime STOR with no capital subsidies AND dump the loss making investments in wind and solar on mainly foreign investors.

    But that’s the difference between Cameron’s loony Common Purpose energy campaign, backed by our Mafia and an energy policy for the people. With today’s announcement of building a long term renting sector it would also scupper the Common Purpose driven power and housing policies of Miliband and Prescott in a snap election once Ukip has won a couple of Parliamentary seats.

    Snap Election warning………………….

  8. Athelstan permalink
    February 5, 2017 1:17 pm

    Phil pretty much sums up my feelings, mind you another facet to this is the number of universities who closed down Engineering depts dedicated to a UK nuclear industry and perhaps that, UK uni’ physics departments up and down the country have been closed or diminished in size and then we go back to……our skools………………don’t go there for STEM or much else besides, either.


    Now in other news:

    The rats are deserting the ship I await for Mann to raise the ‘green flag’ and beg, to sue for clemency – “it wasn’t me man!”

    In an exclusive interview, Dr Bates accused the lead author of the paper, Thomas Karl, who was until last year director of the NOAA section that produces climate data – the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) – of ‘insisting on decisions and scientific choices that maximised warming and minimised documentation… in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming pause, rushed so that he could time publication to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy’.

    Dr Bates was one of two Principal Scientists at NCEI, based in Asheville, North Carolina.

    byline David Rose in the DAILY MAIL – LINK

    It is not pleasing, actually appalling…………… to be confirmed correct but the figures were so off and so blatantly ‘fixed’, it was all so bleedin’ obvious! Manipulation……. and the real thing is here…..Since Hansen’s games and “shut the windows” ruse at those infamous Congressional hearings – was it all, the great scam – a fooking hoax – affirmative to that me’s always thinked.

    As others have alluded to, you cannot escape the feeling that in Australia as in Canada notable politicial opponents of the great scam were manoeuvred out of the way so that, Hollande, Dave, Obarmy and Goldman Sachs/Deutsche bank could get their way.

    If fixing the figures comes so easy, surely it follows removing a democratically elected politician – it’s a piece of pi88.

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