South Korean utility provider Kepco has been announced as being the preferred bidder for the troubled Moorside nuclear power station replacing current owners Toshiba.
The 51% state owned South Korean company had been up against China General Nuclear Power for the bid, but it is now expected that Kepco will take up construction of the plant.
In the deal, which is expected to be closed out by the end of the financial year, Kepco will buy 100% of Toshiba’s shares in the project allowing Toshiba to exit the project.
Under Toshiba’s ownership, the reactor was due to be built with its AP1000 design which had been granted regulatory approval. It is likely that Kepco will now want to use its own reactor design, the APR1400, which has not yet gained approval in the UK – a process which takes three to four years to complete.
The announcement will no doubt come as a relief to Toshiba as the power station has faced a tumultuous year in its bid to be built. In March this year, regulators approved the reactor design after a decade long process, but at the same time as the reactor’s designer, Westinghouse, filed for United States bankruptcy protection.
Following this, in April, French company Engie announced its withdrawal from NuGen, the joint venture behind the project. At the time, it said it was pulling out due to “significant challenges” facing the JV.
In May, National Grid also paused its work to seek planning consent for the North West Coast Connections project in response to an announcement by the power station that it was to conduct a strategic review of the plant’s future.
Prospective operating company NuGen said: “NuGen is extremely encouraged by the volume of interest globally in its ambitions at Moorside. Toshiba has been engaged with multiple credible and capable parties who have expressed an interest in acquiring NuGen, further testimony of the attractiveness of the nuclear industry in the UK and an indication of the degree of foreign investment that is ready and willing to enter this market.
“NuGen and its shareholder Toshiba are exploring a range of options for funding the Moorside Project, which includes Toshiba selling some or all its shareholding in NuGen. These are commercial discussions and questions should be directed to Toshiba.”
A Toshiba spokesperson confirmed the move: “It is correct that Toshiba has granted preferred bidder status to Kepco, however, we cannot comment on details.”
Kepco has been contacted for a response.