Moorside’s atomic dream was an illusion. Renewables are the future. The collapse of Toshiba’s project underlines the fact that new nuclear is a more unreliable proposition than wind and solar. Toshiba’s decision to pull out of building a nuclear power station in Cumbria last week will cause shockwaves far beyond the north-west of England. The outcome is a disaster for the surrounding area, which is heavily reliant on the nuclear industry for jobs and prosperity. Local politicians admit it is a blow and a disappointment for Cumbrians hoping for roles at the proposed Moorside plant. They say they genuinely believe a new buyer for the site will come forward. But that looks like wishful thinking. To an extent, the demise of Moorside can be attributed to problems with it as a specific project. It has looked doomed since Toshiba’s US nuclear unit, Westinghouse, declared bankruptcy in 2017 and the company ruled out new nuclear investments outside of Japan. Efforts to woo the South Korean energy company Kepco as a buyer then floundered. The executive leading the sale for Toshiba blamed the failure to find a buyer on being “caught between a series of unplanned and uncontrollable events”. But the end of Moorside is also emblematic of the wider challenges that new nuclear faces. It took a decade from Tony Blair signalling the UK’s renewed interest in nuclear power in 2006 for France’s EDF Energy and the British government to sign a generous subsidy deal and green-light Hinkley Point C, the UK’s first new nuclear plant in a generation. In all likelihood, it will not be generating electricity until 2027. Ministers have promised Hitachi they will use public money to take a £5bn stake in the scheme. Such a dramatic U-turn on policy is explained by the fact that Wylfa is about more than the UK’s desire for new nuclear: it is also about cooperation with Tokyo and bringing forth other investment from Japanese firms, such as carmakers, after Brexit. There is a pattern here. The subsidy deal for Hinkley was declared exceptional because it was the first new nuclear plant and the risk was loaded on to the developer. Now the second one will be exceptional too. What’s to say that the third, fourth and fifth will be any different? The collapse of Moorside should be cause for the government to look again at whether it is backing the right horse by doggedly pursuing new nuclear. Even the government’s own advisers, the National Infrastructure Commission, are urging a rethink. Renewables, they point out, are simply less risky.
Observer 11th Nov 2018 read more »
Nuclear Meltdown; Moorside atomic plant abandonned as economics trumps propaganda. In the early hours of Thursday morning came the announcement from half way across the world in Tokyo, that the Japanese electrical conglomerate had pulled the plug on its UK subsidiary NuGen ( Nuclear Generation Ltd), the consortium tasked with developing the £15bn Moorside new-build project in West Cumbria. In its press statement, Toshiba’s Board said in devastating bluntness: “After considering the additional costs entailed in continuing to operate NuGen, Toshiba recognises that the economically rational decision is to withdraw from the UK nuclear power plant construction project, and has resolved to take steps to wind-up NuGen”.
David Lowry’s Blog 9th Nov 2018 read more »