Chinese company seeks ownership of fourth UK nuclear plant

A major Chinese nuclear power developer wants a stake in a fourth plant in the UK, in Cumbria, following the bankruptcy of Westinghouse.

China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) already has stakes in new plants planned for Somerset’s Hinkley Point, Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex, and this week expressed its interest in bidding for a role at the troubled £15bn, 3.8GW project on the Cumbrian coast, called Moorside.

It said it would bid to make an equity investment in NuGeneration (NuGen), the company now owned by Japan’s Toshiba that was set up to develop Moorside.

The scheme has been hit by the departure of NuGen’s original owners, leaving Toshiba in sole charge.

Toshiba’s position on the scheme worsened in March this year when its power business, Westinghouse – due to supply the three reactors to Moorside – filed for bankruptcy protection in the US.

The Sunday Times broke the story this week of CGN’s interest in the Moorside plant, which is expected to power 6 million UK homes.

A CGN spokesman has since confirmed his company’s intention to Chinese media.

"We are willing to utilize our more than 30 years of experience in nuclear design, construction and operation to support the UK’s nuclear industry development," spokesman Huang Xiaofei told China Daily.

The state-owned firm has a 33% stake in Hinkley Point C, majority owned by France’s EDF, a 20% holding in a scheme at Sizewell, Suffolk, and will eventually have 66.5% of the plant at Bradwell, Essex.

If CGN is successful in its Moorside bid it would likely seek to use an indigenous Chinese reactor design known as the HPR1000, the design for which has already been submitted for UK government approval for Bradwell.

Image: Artist’s render of the 3.8GW nuclear plant planned for Moorside in Cumbria (NuGen)

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