Saturday , April 17 2021

Toshiba's withdrawal releases the UK from three new nuclear reactors

The project of a nuclear power plant that pushed Toshiba in the United Kingdom ran in his lap. She's now a bachelor's. The Japanese decision to liquidate its subsidiary NuGen completes the adventure of building three AP1000 reactors in Sellafieldu, West Cumbria, northwestern England. So they bury one of the four "new nuclear" projects currently underway in the UK. The theme is key to the country: the obsolescence of its power plants will deny it half of its nuclear power generation capacity by 2025.

Korean Kepco, which looked the best in replacing Toshiba in NuGen, failed to find a common ground with Japanese. Buying a consortium would still be complicated: Kepco warned that it would rather use its own technology … which should from the outset continue the whole project, including regulatory approvals.

Hitachi, EDF and CGN on competing projects

It is expected that the end of the Sellafield project will not affect the remainder of the remaining assets in the UK. Among them, the French EDF project encouraged Sizewell in January to enter the new phase of the authorization process, seeking a green light for construction. Sizewell will in fact take over the technology of two EPRs that are already under construction on Hinkley Point C, which will cut EDF costs by 20%.

Director of EDF UK affiliate Simone Rossi said in mid-October that the decision to invest in Sizewell should be issued in 2021 to allow teams to skip from one project to another, reuse skills and optimize costs.

The Japanese Hitachi Project to Build Three Boiling Water Reactors (ABWRs) at Welsh Newydd Wing is somewhat more advanced in the regulatory process, but slightly less in technical design. Finally, the Chinese CGN project in Bradwell (southeast of England), in co-operation with EDF, is less advanced than the other two: the regulator has yet to give green light to technology – a decision is expected in the next three years.

For every one of your funding methods

Financing these various projects remains an important topic for solving. One thing at this stage seems to be certain: everyone will have their own logic. London (the first of Margaret Thatcher's privatization) and Tokyo could directly invest in the Hitachi project, probably with other Japanese investors.

However, direct government investment is not foreseen for Sizewell, that several investment funds seemed ready to finance. The British government wants to use the mechanism called "Regulatory Assets-Based Assets", which reduces financial costs and ultimately the cost to the consumer, and encourages the operator to invest. He could do arbitrage early in 2019.

Alexandre Counis

Korespondent in London

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