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atw Vol. 63 (2018) | Issue 1 ı January



UK Is Leading the Way

With Clear Strategy for Nuclear


The UK is Europe’s most prominent leader in nuclear development because of the government’s clear

­strategy of supporting nuclear energy as part of its future energy mix, a senior official from US-based nuclear

equipment manufacturer Westinghouse Electric Company said.

Michael Kirst, Westinghouse’s vice-president of

strategy for Europe, Middle East and Africa

(EMEA), warned, however, that choices about nuclear

development must be based on technology, and not on the

type of financing package. “We now have a banking ­contest

and not a technology contest and this is not healthy for the

industry or the energy system,” he said.

Mr Kirst told reporters in Brussels that the UK government’s

decision to support the financing of new energy

projects, including nuclear, by way of a contract for

difference (CfD) scheme was a breakthrough.

“The UK government made it clear they need these new

nuclear capacities”, he said. The UK model provides a “fair

foundation” where all low-carbon technologies were given

exactly the same access to state support.

Mr Kirst said Westinghouse, a privately owned company,

does not have access to state support on demand, unlike its

major competitors in the nuclear industry, which are

“somehow state-owned or state-controlled”. A clear market

signal for private investors in nuclear development is therefore

essential because it allows choices based on technology,

rather than on a financing package, Mr Kirst said.

Speaking about NuGen’s planned three-unit Moorside

nuclear project in Cumbria, northwest England, the

company’s president for EMEA, Luc Van Hulle, said there

are “a couple of options on the table” and Westinghouse’s

AP1000 Generation III+ pressurised water reactor

technology is still potentially one of these options.

The future of the Moorside project to build three

AP1000s has been overshadowed by Westinghouse’s filing

for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US in March

2017, along with Westinghouse owner Toshiba’s financial

woes and its decision to no longer serve as a contractor of

engineering, procurement and construction for overseas

nuclear projects.

Mr Van Hulle said the Moorside project became “more

complicated” after Engie sold its 40 % stake in NuGen to

Toshiba in April 2017, making the Japanese company the

sole owner of the project. But he said Westinghouse is

­confident that the project will proceed “one way or

another”. He said the fate of the project is in the hands of

the UK government and NuGen’s owner Toshiba.

Last month state media reported that China General

Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) is considering investing

in Moorside, while in March 2017, South Korea’s Korea

Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) expressed an interest in

taking a stake in NuGen.

Mr Van Hulle said that holding on to the AP1000 design

will be the securest and fastest way to realise the Moorside

project because the plant completed the UK’s generic

design assessment (GDA) review by regulators in the UK in

March 2017.

If NuGen chooses another technology, the process of

going through another GDA process could delay the project

by four or five years, he said.

“Clearly there will be a shift in the start date from 2025

to later in the 2020s, but the plant could still be up and

running before 2030,” NuGen’s chief executive officer Tom

Samson told Reuters last week.

Mr Samson said the timing will largely depend on the

technology choice, because the new bidders may want to

bring in their own designs. However, Mr Samson said:

“We are not ruling out any technology at this stage.”

In the US, the expected delay to the Vogtle nuclear

project and the cancellation of the Summer project in

South Carolina was not related to the AP1000 technology,

Mr Van Hulle said.

He said the AP1000 design is “safe and sound” and the

AP1000 reactor units being built in China will prove this

once they enter commercial operation.

There are four AP1000 nuclear units under construction

in China – two at Sanmen and two at Haiyang – all expected

to become commercially operational in 2018.

| | AP1000 new build in Haiyang, China.

South Carolina Electric and Santee Cooper, the two US

utilities that co-own the Summer AP1000 project, decided

to suspend its construction in July 2017 quoting cost

overruns and schedule delays.

Mr Van Hulle said the utilities’ decision to stop construction

was “saddening” because of the advanced stage

of development, with all nuclear steam supply systems

having been installed. He said the Summer units will not be

completed in the “foreseeable future”, but there is a

possibility that a new owner could take over the project.

In September 2017, the owners of the two-unit Vogtle

AP1000 project in Georgia recommended completing

construction, despite Westinghouse’s financial woes and

increased costs.

The two new reactors at Vogtle, units 3 and 4, under

construction since 2013, represent the first US deployment

of the AP1000 technology.

According to Mr Van Hulle, despite its current difficulties

in the US, Westinghouse has a “very sound base

business” which will serve as the backbone of the

company’s future.

In August 2017, Westinghouse submitted a five-year

business plan to the company’s debtor-in-possession (DIP)

financing lenders and the unsecured creditors committee.

Inside Nuclear with NucNet

UK Is Leading the Way With Clear Strategy for Nuclear ı NucNet

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