When Hinkley Point C got the government green-light last year, business secretary Greg Clark heralded it as the “inauguration of a new era of UK nuclear power”. While spades are now in the ground at Hinkley, despite some delays, the status of the country’s other nuclear new-build projects is less clear. Last week saw South Korean nuclear giant Kepco selected as preferred bidder to buy NuGen, the developer of the Moorside plant in Cumbria. The deal is crucial to securing the future of the £10bn project – a future that has looked increasingly doubtful after financial difficulties at NuGen’s current owner, Toshiba. This new timetable puts Moorside head-to-head with the China General Nuclear’s (CGN) Bradwell project in Essex as the third new-build project in the pipeline. CGN, which also has a 33 per cent stake in Hinkley Point C, began its reactor GDA in January this year. The conclusion of the GDA is still years off, and a final investment decision isn’t expected until the mid-2020s, but CGN has plans to engage with the UK supply chain next year. And in front of Moorside and Bradwell is Horizon’s Wylfa Newydd plant in Anglesey, north Wales. Its owner Hitachi is likely to complete its GDA process before Christmas and there are still issues to be ironed out with the funding. But the project has promised more engagement with the supply chain, something that the company admits hasn’t been forthcoming so far. SMRs might seem a long way off for the construction sector with the technology yet to be fully developed, but this hasn’t stopped some firms staking their claim. Laing O’Rourke has not wasted any time in siding up to those in the competition, agreeing partnerships with both Urenco and Rolls-Royce on their respective SMR proposals. And with money now there for SMRs and a government willing to get SMR technology off the ground, don’t rule out more partnerships like this being agreed in the months ahead.
Construction News 11th Dec 2017 read more »