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Wednesday
Dec132017

Grass gets even longer around UK's planned nuclear site in Cumbria

The grass was already growing long — and over — the Nugen sign at the site of the Cumbria UK proposed new 3-reactor site when the project got kicked a bit further into the long grass.

The original proposal was for three Toshiba-Westinghouse AP-1000 reactors, but with Westinghouse bankrupt, Toshiba unloading its nuclear burdens, and French partner Engie also pulling out, the NuGen “consortium” quickly found itself with a great big “vacancy” sign.

Now comes an announcement that South Korean nuclear company, Kepco, plans to buy Toshiba out of the Cumbria nuclear project early next year. While appearing to keep this unnecessary scheme alive, the move will likely delay it even further. Kepco would replace the AP-1000s with its own design, requiring a startover in the certification process. Even though the current Conservative UK government is intent on pursuing expensive, slow and cumbersome nuclear power literally at all costs, pushing Moorside this far into the future should signal its permanent demise.

NuGen’s CEO, Tom Samson, has already started to backpedal, suggesting that the Moorside plans would shrink to two reactors and use Kepcos APR-1400 design which is smaller than the AP-1000. However, there is no signed deal yet. And if the optimists — i.e. NuGen itself — are predicting a startup date “towards the end of the 2020s or the 2030s,” the reality is more likely later, or never.