Westinghouse plans to build three AP1000s amounting to 3.4 GWe at Moorside, the nuclear new-build site next to Sellafield in the UK, with the first coming online in 2024.

Westinghouse plans to build three AP1000s amounting to 3.4 GWe at Moorside, the nuclear new-build site next to Sellafield in the UK, with the first coming online in 2024. The announcement was made as its corporate parent Toshiba confirmed that it had decided in principle to buy a 60% stake in nuclear new build consortium NuGen for £102 million.
The deal means that Toshiba would take a controlling interest in the NuGen joint venture by buying out the 50% of partner Iberdrola for £85 million as well as a 10% slice of the 50% stake owned by GDF Suez.
The deal considerably strengthens the Westinghouse European operation, which already has a nuclear fuel manufacturing facility, Springfields, in the UK. Fuel for Moorside will be made at the facility, says Westinghouse, helping to offset possible job losses there when its contract to supply fuel for the UK’s fleet of advanced gas-cooled reactors expires if these plants shut down on schedule by 2030.
Although Westinghouse would supply the Moorside reactors, operating them would be the business of GDF Suez, which owns Electrabel, the utility that runs Belgium’s seven nuclear reactors at the Doel and Tihange sites.
NuGen itself has to be established as a standalone utility company according to Simon Marshall, Westinghouse AP1000 head.
Marshall said that the principal condition in closing the purchase deal now, which he predicted could be finished ‘before June 2014’, was negotiation with the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority about extending the option on the Moorside land. The option held by NuGen currently expires in October 2014; Toshiba would not be ready to exercise that option, when it makes a final investment decision, until the end of 2018, just before it would plan to start construction on the first unit, he said.
Marshall said that Westinghouse would now restart work completing the regulatory approval of the generic AP1000 design, a process that was placed on hold in 2011. He predicted it could take two years to close the remaining 51 outstanding issues. Other work up to 2018 includes acquiring the site licence, the development consent order, and other required permits and permissions to start work. After that, site preparation would take two years, and site construction another four. Marshall said that construction of units two and three would likely follow at one-year intervals. Toshiba would likely supply its turbogenerator systems and services to the new plants.
Grid connection remains an issue to be solved. No transmission line currently exists capable of carrying power generated at Moorside to the electricity grid, and site access is restricted by the Lake District National Park. National Grid’s Strategic Options report from October 2012 for the North West Coast Connections Project sets out two possible options: onshore routes to the north of Moorside following the path of existing low voltage power lines, or following existing power lines to the south, or offshore through the Irish Sea and across Morecombe Bay. National Grid said that once its plans are further developed it would carry out a consultation with residents.
There will also be tricky negotiations with the UK government over the investment return embedded in the purchase contracts, the so-called ‘strike price’ which in the case of the recent EdF negotiations over Hinkley Point C were protracted and difficult and finally heavily criticised by some UK economics experts for being too generous to the plant investor. Westinghouse CEO Danny Roderick believes that the cost of production with the APR1000 is inherently lower, and that this could prove a significant factor.