The acquisition sees Toshiba picking up the 50 per cent stake in NuGen previously owned by Iberdrola, as well as an extra 10 per cent. The remaining 40 per cent of the company remains with GDF Suez.
NuGen plans to build a three-reactor plant called Moorside in the UK near the Sellafield site in West Cumbria, utilizing Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor technology. Once operational, Moorside is expected to have a capacity of 3.4 GW, which is forecast to provide 7 per cent of Britain’s electricity.
Toshiba president Hisao Tanaka said that Moorside would “support the UK in meeting the challenges of securing a stable, affordable future energy supply and cutting CO2 emissions”.
Westinghouse president Danny Roderick said that the West Cumbria community “will reap many benefits as a result of this project, including calling upon the local supply chain, and creating thousands of skilled jobs. We commend the UK on its decision to move forward with safe, clean and affordable nuclear energy that will benefit the region for decades to come.”
GDF SUEZ chairman Gerard Mestrallet also used the closing of the deal as an opportunity to praise the UK’s pursuit of a fleet of new nuclear plants, saying the government’s “strong strategic vision and political consensus have enabled… a secure, low-carbon electricity generation future, with nuclear energy as part of it, while remaining attractive to investors”.
A new NuGen management team will now be formed under the leadership of chief executive Sandy Rupprecht.
In a statement, NuGen said Rupprecht would “be concentrating on immediate project milestones such as site assessments, site lay-out, and recruitment of leading nuclear professionals to join the project”.
NuGen is set to make a final investment decision on Moorside in 2018. If it goes ahead, the first reactor is targeted to come online in 2024 with full commercial operation of all three units set for 2026. The fuel for the reactors will be supplied by the Springfields Fuel Fabrication facility near Preston.
NuGen will be watching with interest the fate of Hinkley Point C, the new nuclear plant that EDF has won approval to build in Somerset and which has secured a contract-for-difference from the UK government. That contract is now the subject of an EU state aid probe and the outcome of that investigation will influence the future direction not just of NuGen, but Britain’s nuclear power ambitions.