South Korean state-owned utility Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) announced on 6 December that it had won preferred bidder status to buy Toshiba’s Nugeneration (NuGen) consortium, which is planning to build two nuclear power units in the UK at the Moorside site in Cumbria.

Both Kepco and China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) had been in negotiations with Toshiba over a possible takeover of NuGen.

Toshiba has been facing financial difficulties after its US nuclear business, Westinghouse, collapsed into bankruptcy in March. The Moorside project was further undermined after French energy group Engie pulled out and forced Toshiba to buy its $138.5m stake, leaving Toshiba as the only player. 

Moorside was initially expected to have two Westinghouse !)1000 reactors but Kepco reportedly plans to use its APR1400 reactor design for the project. However, the company had not yet received government approval, or generic design assessment (GDA), for its APR1400. Kepco’s construction of four reactors in the United Arab Emirates on time and on budget is said to have been a factor in its success.

However, the Moorside project is now expected to face delays. Toshiba had completed the GDA regulatory process, and Kepco will have to undergo the assessment which can take four to five years. Korea will also have to negotiate with the UK government on the price of electricity from the Moorside plant. The Guardian quoted a “source close to the NuGen project” as saying they accepted that whatever price the Koreans secured with the government, it would have to be “significantly below” what had been agreed with EDF for the Hinkley Point C project in Somerset. 

Impression of the Moorside nuclear plant (Credit: NuGen)