Representatives of State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation reported to be meeting with NuGen execs tomorrow
Representatives of a Chinese state-owned power company are expected this week to discuss investing in NuGen’s Moorside nuclear plant in Cumbria.
NuGen, part-owned by Japanese technology giant Toshiba, is building the £15bn facility, but executives from the company and UK trade body the Nuclear Industry Association are said to be meeting with a team from China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) and its parent firm tomorrow (Tuesday), with a view to securing investment for the project, according to a report in The Sunday Times.
China already has interests in the UK nuclear sector, with its China General Nuclear company investing heavily in the Hinkley Point plant and aiming to build and operate a nuclear power station in Bradwell, Essex.
In a statement NuGen said: “NuGen is undertaking a strategic review of its options following shareholder and vendor challenges. NuGen is confident that the review will lead to an outcome that provides a more robust, stable and sustainable platform to meet its commitment to deliver the next generation of nuclear baseload for the UK.
“NuGen remains a key player within the UK nuclear industry, has a vital role to play within the UK Industrial Strategy, and the Moorside project remains a key infrastructure project focused on creating employment and economic prosperity in Cumbria and across the north.
“As we are undertaking a strategic review we have no comment to make on media speculation.”
NuGen is being sold by Toshiba, which has a 60% stake, while French energy firm Engie owns 40%. The Japanese firm has delayed publishing its earnings three times this year, following claims of accounting misconduct at its Westinghouse Electric subsidiary, which is now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Media reports have suggested Toshiba is looking at a $8bn (£7.1bn) loss.
Engie left the project to develop Moorside in April, although NuGen chief executive Tom Samson said the French company’s departure was connected to the financial woes of Toshiba and not related to the nuclear plant.
Samson recently told a group of local stakeholders in the North West that there was a “universe of options” regarding the development of Moorside, but his company could not exercise these unilaterally. The strategic review, sanctioned by the NuGen board and in consultation with the UK government, would “explore a range of options which could include new investors, technology and financing solutions to ensure Moorside is delivered”.
He added: “It is incumbent on NuGen to come up with answers to these difficult exam questions. Once we have completed the strategic review and consulted on our findings with the government we can begin to redefine our timelines – and then we will hit the fast-forward button.”