Agreement keeps Moorside option open

06 May 2014

A Toshiba-GDF Suez consortium hoping to build a new nuclear power station adjacent to Sellafield has extended its option to purchase the land until after the European Commission ruling on UK market reforms.

Sellafield_aerial_2009_(NDA)_460
Land to the north of NDA's existing Sellafield site has been earmarked for the Moorside plant (Image: NDA)

The UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) both issued statements confirming that the NDA had agreed "key commercial terms" of an updated option agreement with Toshiba and GDF Suez. They did not give further details of those terms, but UK prime minister David Cameron took the opportunity to announce the "huge investment being made by Toshiba and Westinghouse...into the rebuilding of the British nuclear industry," while climate change secretary Ed Davey described the agreement as an "important step forward" for plans for a new plant at the Moorside site.

An original option to purchase land to the north of the Sellafield site in Cumbria was won by a consortium of Iberdrola, GDF Suez and Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), which subsequently renamed itself NuGeneration (NuGen), in 2009. SSE withdrew in 2011, and Toshiba bought Iberdrola's stake in late 2013. Toshiba now owns 60% of the consortium after purchasing a further 10% from GDF Suez in January. The original 2009 option to purchase the land would have expired in October of this year.

By extending the option, the NuGen partners have shifted commitment to purchase the land well beyond the general timeframe in which the European Commission is expected to decide on the legality of the UK's market reforms that support nuclear power.

NuGen has been carrying out site assessment work on the 200 hectares of land covered by the purchase option since October 2012. The work involves characterising the land's radiological, chemical, geotechnical, geophysical, hydrogeological and seismic properties to enable NuGen to identify the best location within those 200 hectares for construction of the new plant.

NuGen said in a statement that the company welcomed the latest announcement and looked forward to moving ahead with the Moorside project. Three Westinghouse AP1000 units, with a combined capacity of 3.4 GWe, are envisaged for Moorside, with the first unit coming into service in 2024.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News

Filed under: New build, United Kingdom