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Toshiba pulls out of United Kingdom nuclear power venture

10 November 2018

"It is essential that this competitive advantage and the nuclear skills base are maintained, through sustained investment in nuclear new build, harnessing this capability and delivering low carbon energy to power the United Kingdom economy".

In a blow to the government's nuclear strategy, Toshiba, the Japanese conglomerate, said that it had made a decision to shut down its Nugen subsidiary, which was developing the Moorside project near Sellafield.

Toshiba Corp. CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani addresses a group of new employees of the embattled company during a welcome ceremony in Tokyo on April 2, 2018, a day after its business year for 2018 began.

"After considering the additional costs entailed in continuing to operate NuGen, Toshiba recognises that the economically rational decision is to withdraw from the United Kingdom nuclear power plant construction project, and has resolved to take steps to wind-up NuGen", it concluded.

Toshiba announced this morning that it was taking the drastic step 18 months after it was left as the sole owner of NuGen, which had hoped to develop the Moorside site north of Sellafield.

"Unfortunately, given that the RAB model is still in the early stages of development, has not been determined as policy yet, and still faces a lengthy legislative process before it can be applied to new nuclear, it has not been possible to find a buyer willing to take that level of policy and legislative risk when entering the UK".

The Moorside project in northwest England was expected to provide around 7 percent of Britain's electricity, but faced setbacks after Toshiba's nuclear arm Westinghouse went bankrupt previous year.

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Toshiba has since invited new investors to participate in NuGen but doesn't foresee a sale of the company during the current financial year. "It is therefore vital the government facilitates the build of new nuclear on the site for the sake of the energy security of the United Kingdom and for the local economy in Cumbria".

She added: "As Toshiba has opted to pull the plug on this project then the government must step in". (KEPCO) had been a preferred bidder but lost that status in July as delays to concluding a deal dragged on.

Sue Ferns, senior deputy general secretary of scientists' union Prospect, called for state intervention to save the scheme, saying the future of the United Kingdom nuclear industry was at stake.

He explained the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Westinghouse was the start of the sales process, which was further complicated by the emergence of a potential new policy framework from the United Kingdom government to finance new build: the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model.

Under the ownership of Toshiba, Westinghouse had been poised to develop three of its AP1000 reactors at Moorside, but the plans disintegrated after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States of America in early 2017 having overpaid by several billion dollars for another nuclear construction and services business.

Cumbria's leading politicians have called for the Government to do all it can to make sure Moorside goes ahead.

"Relying on foreign companies and countries for our essential energy needs is utterly irresponsible", he added.