Korean company rescues UK’s Moorside nuclear power project

A state-owned South Korean energy company will assume construction of a nuclear power plant planned for northwest England, The Guardian newspaper reported.

KEPCO has been selected as the preferred bidder for the NuGeneration consortium, which looked doomed earlier this year after Japanese owner Toshiba was forced to write-down billions of dollars in assets, and the March 29 bankruptcy of its U.S. nuclear subsidiary, Westinghouse Electric.

The plan to build reactors at Moorside in Cumbria suffered another blow when France’s ENGIE also pulled out of the project, and forced Toshiba to buy its $138.5 million stake, Kallanish Energy understands.

The Korean group beat competition from China General Nuclear (CGN), which has a £6 billion ($8.03 billion) stake in the reactors France’s RDF is building at Hinkley Point, and is working to build its own nuclear facility in Essex.

The UK government is understood to have given the Koreans assurances the UK is committed to a fleet of new nuclear plants, a plan that has been criticized due to falling costs for renewables, The Guardian reported.

Sources told The Guardian it was KEPCO’s track record of building its reactors in the United Arab Emirates on time and on budget that helped it secure the deal.

New ownership and technology means the plant will come online several years later than 2025, when electricity generation was originally due.

Toshiba had cleared the four- to five-year regulatory process of getting its reactor approved by UK authorities, a process KEPCO will have to start from scratch.

KEPCO is understood to be planning to build two of its APR-1400 reactors on the site, which would have a combined capacity of up to 3,000 megawatts, near the 3,200 MW capacity at Hinkley Point C.