The Moorside nuclear plant may not be up and running until the early 2030s, the troubled project’s boss has admitted after confirming that Kepco has been chosen to take it over.
Tom Samson, chief executive of NuGen, told the Nuclear 2017 conference today that South Korea’s biggest utility has been chosen by Toshiba to take over the unit set up by the Japanese multi-national to develop the Cumbrian plant.
Toshiba, which has been the sole owner of NuGen since French energy company Engie sold its 40 per cent in the project in April, has decided to withdraw after its nuclear development arm Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy earlier in the year.
Samson said Kepco had to clear a number of hurdles before the project can be delivered.
He said: “It’s a significant milestone in the sale process but it’s not yet done.”
These included finalising the transaction with Toshiba and the UK government while securing permission from the South Korean government to enter the UK market.
In addition, Kepco will need to secure (GDA) general design approval to operate its APR 1400 reactor in the UK.
Samson ruled out using the Westinghouse reactors, which Toshiba lined up for the 3.4GW project.
Questioned on the timescale for a completion date, he said: “It’s likely to be towards the end of the 2020s or the early 2030s before we can achieve that.”
But he said delivering Moorside as rapidly as possible would keep costs down.
“The faster we can deliver this project, the more we can take out of the development phase.”
Samson said that Kepco were a good fit for the project because they are committed to the UK, have a robust balance to support investment in the project, backing from strong South Korean institutions and the ‘most enviable delivery track record in the nuclear industry.
Energy minister Richard Harrington said that he looked forward to working closely with Kepco on the project.
“It’s really welcome that Toshiba has selected a preferred bidder on the Nugen project and I look forward to personally discussing their plans with Kepco,” said the minister.
Responding to the announcement, Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “This is an important step towards ensuring the UK has the low carbon generation capacity required to meet our power demands for the future.
“West Cumbria has a long-established and highly-skilled nuclear workforce in an industry which contributes £4.3 billion to the North West economy.”