While local MPs push for government commitment to Moorside, latest news casts doubt on whether the new power station will ever be built.
Kepco pulls out
Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) was lined up to acquire NuGen, the Toshiba-owned venture in charge of the Moorside project, but now looks set to abandon its bid. Negotiations have stalled since the UK government adopted a new pricing model for the plant that would reduce the level of profitability for the constructor. With Kepco now stripped of its ‘preferred bidder’ status, a new buyer has to be found – but none appears to be in prospect. Criticism over the high costs of supporting Hinkley Point C has caused the government to reduce its level of financial support for future nuclear plants.
The failure to seal a deal with Kepco has forced NuGen to review its size and structure, as its project is dogged by more delays. Up to 100 jobs, including that of the CEO, are thought to be at risk.
NuGen has, however, provided information to support Moorside being carried forward as a site for a new nuclear power station. This will feed in to a new National Policy Statement for Nuclear Power that will define government policy for development of new sources of energy from 2026 to 2035.
The Wylfa nuclear power plant, which Hitachi plans to build on Anglesey in Wales, has had a major set-back. Key partner Bechtel has pulled out of its construction role after it estimated a significant rise in overall costs to comply with new safety standards. Hitachi is now left with the task of finding a partner to replace Bechtel and securing adequate investment.
UK government stance
In its recent assessment, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has advised the UK government that it should not agree support for more than one nuclear power station beyond Hinkley Point C before 2025. Wylfa is the most likely candidate for support, since it is furthest ahead in the planning process – if Hitachi can overcome its current problems. The NIC advocates the use of renewable energy sources and recommends that the electricity system should be running off 50 per cent renewable generation by 2030.