The UK National Grid on 16 May put on hold development consent for a proposed GBP2.8bn ($3.6bn) power line to connect the transmission network to the Moorside nuclear project in northwest England after Moorside developer NuGeneration (NuGen - a 60-40% joint venture between Japan's Toshiba and France's Engie) decided to carry out a strategic review.
The £10bn project has been in doubt since Japan's Toshiba Corp pulled out of the construction work in February after its Westinghouse unit filed for bankruptcy. French energy group Engie also pulled out of the project, exercising its right to sell its 40% stake in NuGen to Toshiba.
NuGen said the strategic review was due to "shareholder and vendor challenges". National Grid said: "In light of this, we have decided to pause our work to consent NuGen's connection and take the time to understand NuGen's programme to make sure our projects are aligned." It added that the consents should run in parallel so the Planning Inspectorate can examine the consent application for the connection line knowing there is a strong need for it. "Despite this pause, we are confident the connection will still be ready when NuGen requires it and are continuing to work closely with them," it said.
NuGen CEO Tom Samson said there is a "universe of options" for taking the project forward. “We have achieved a great deal so far, and the Moorside project has created significant international interest," he said. "Westinghouse has achieved design acceptance for the AP1000 reactor (three of which are planned for use at Moorside) from the UK nuclear regulators and this is of major benefit to the UK. "So this, along with other considerations, including options for new partners, will form part of our review." He added: "We have 100 per cent backing from Toshiba as we move forward through this transition.”
Samson added: "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.” Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) have said they are interested in buying into Moorside. Business Secretary Greg Clark visited South Korea earlier this year to meet with potential investors in Moorside but did not reveal if Kepco was one of these.