Toshiba’s UK withdrawal puts Cumbria nuclear plant in doubt

By Paul Homewood


The UK’s nuclear strategy takes another blow:



Toshiba plans to wind up its UK nuclear business after failing to find a buyer, dealing a potentially fatal blow to plans for a new nuclear power station in Cumbria.

Its NuGen division was behind the development of the Moorside project.

Toshiba’s decision will dent the UK’s plans to develop new nuclear power stations.

Unions have criticised the government for failing to intervene and ensure the project went ahead.

The Japanese firm said it would start the wind-up process in January.

"After considering the additional costs entailed in continuing to operate NuGen, Toshiba recognises that the economically rational decision is to withdraw from the UK nuclear power plant construction project, and has resolved to take steps to wind-up NuGen," the Toshiba statement said.

Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) had been a preferred bidder to take over the nuclear power plant project, but those talks fell through after more than a year of negotiations.


Currently we have 9.3 GW of nuclear capacity, but only Sizewell B with 1.2 GW is due to still be open after 2030. It is possible of course that some of the older plants may be allowed to run for an extra year or two, but that would only be a sticking plaster.

There is also Hinkley B to come on stream in 2025 with a further 3.2 GW.


Excluding wind and solar, capacity is already extremely tight at 65 GW. Given the likely closure of all coal plants, old gas and nuclear ones, capacity come 2030 could be as low as 38 GW.


The state of play for other potential new nuclear is:


  • Sizewell C – 3.2 GW – earliest likely start date is 2031. Issues surrounding Sizewell include:

a) Problems with EDF raising capital

b) Ongoing problems with reactor design

c) The cost of electricity – although a strike price has provisionally been agreed, effectively at £86.50/MWh (as part of a joint deal with Hinkley), this may not be acceptable to the UK Government if they can source offshore wind more cheaply.

It may also not offer EDF a sufficient return either.

  • Bradwell B – This is also an EDF site, but it is well behind Sizewell in planning, so is unlikely to be ready until well into the 2030s.
  • Wylfa – 2.9 GW – this is well down the track, with Final Investment Decision  due next year. Ultimate owner is Hitachi. Key will be the strike price, which may need government putting down some equity into the scheme. Operations could start as early as the mid 2020s.
  • Oldbury – this is another Hitachi site, but construction will not start until after Wylfa is operational.

Even if Wylfa goes through, we will still have less nuclear capacity in 2030 than we do now. And certainly far too little dispatchable capacity in total.

Capacity Closures Additions Capacity
GW 2017

Nuclear 9 -8 3 4
Coal 13 -13 0
CCGT 32 -10 1 23
Hydro 1 1
Biomass/Waste 6 6
Other thermal 4 4
TOTAL 65 -31 4 38


November 8, 2018 at 02:00PM

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