Toshiba to reconsider nuclear business outside Japan

31 January 2017

Japan’s Toshiba has decided to review its nuclear construction business outside Japan, in order to focus on maintenance, repairs and decommissioning of reactors.

The company will continue to design, manufacture and supply nuclear reactors but may stop construction work on nuclear projects. Toshiba acquired nuclear reactor manufacturer and constructor Westinghouse in 2006 for $5.4bn and acquired services company Chicago Bridge & Iron Company (CB&I) for $229m in 2015. Westinghouse is in charge of all AP1000 nuclear projects worldwide, including four in the USA (two units at VC Summer in South Carolina and two at Vogtle, in Georgia), and four in China (two each at Sanmen and Haiyang NPPs). The four Chinese units are expected to be commissioned by the end of 2017. Toshiba is also taking part in the development of a 3.8GWe nuclear new build project jointly with France's Engie in the UK at Moorside,  where four AP1000 reactors are planned.

Toshiba CEO Satoshi Tsunakawa was quoted by the Asahi Shimbun as saying at a 27 January press conference: "We focused on the nuclear business among all of our energy businesses, but this will change. This will entail a review of our overseas (nuclear) business." Following his appointment as Toshiba's CEO in June 2016, Tsunakawa reaffirmed the company's commitment to nuclear power, saying that its goal of building 45 nuclear reactors around the world by the 2030 financial year was achievable.

However, Tsunakawa said in January that Toshiba would concentrate on designing, manufacturing and supplying nuclear reactors. According to Forbes, he said Westinghouse is "unlikely to carry out actual construction work for the future nuclear power plant projects to eliminate risk". Tsunakawa reportedly told the press conference that Toshiba may separate its nuclear operations from its energy systems and solutions business unit, placing it directly under his control, in order to strengthen risk management. He said such a move would "support us in our goal of securing stronger management of US nuclear project costs and enhanced governance of Westinghouse".

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