The bankruptcy of Toshiba’s US nuclear unit, Westinghouse, is unlikely to have a negative effect on new nuclear builds, according to the World Nuclear Association.
In a statement to Power Engineering International, the WNA said overall prospects for new nuclear build are strong given the increasing need for reliable supplies of low carbon electricity, while NuGen confirmed its Moorside project will continue to move forward with Westinghouse on board.
“Since 2010 the number of reactors under construction has been consistently higher than during the previous two decades. 60 reactors are currently under construction, a further 164 are on order or planned and 350 are proposed.”
Of the 60 nuclear reactors currently under construction eight are Westinghouse AP1000 reactors, four in the US and four in China. All four AP1000 reactors being built in China are scheduled to start operating by the end of this year.
WNA said that the restructuring Westinghouse has announced should enable it to continue to be an important participant in the global nuclear industry.
In the UK there have been concerns for the future of the Moorside nuclear power project being developed by NUGEN, as a result of the Westinghouse filing.
Westinghouse is the project’s technology supplier, and there had been uncertainty about whether the company would continue involvement in the plan to deliver three Westinghouse AP1000 reactors in West Cumbria, northwest England.
NuGen appeared to put the matter to rest when issuing a statement on Thursday, stating that company “is continuing to develop its Moorside Project to deliver three Westinghouse AP1000 reactors in West Cumbria.
“NuGen will continue to work alongside our technology supplier, Westinghouse, and our shareholders, Toshiba and Engie, in taking forward the Moorside development phase. NuGen will continue in a “business as usual” manner working in collaboration to gain the appropriate permits and licences required to construct Europe’s largest nuclear new build project, and will continue to increase value and attractiveness of the project to potential future investors, as we have always done.
“NuGen cannot comment on specific financial issues relating directly to Toshiba or Westinghouse. Any questions on these matters should be referred directly to Toshiba and Westinghouse.”
There was further reassurance later on Thursday when Westinghouse released a statement announcing that its AP1000 nuclear power plant design has successfully completed review by regulators in the United Kingdom, who concluded their Generic Design Assessment (GDA) by issuing Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) and Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA) for the Westinghouse technology. The DAC and SoDA were issued by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency (EA), respectively.
“The successful completion of this rigorous review by the ONR and the EA has been many years in the making, and it represents a major milestone towards bringing a new generation of safe, clean energy to the United Kingdom through the Moorside Project,” said José Emeterio Gutiérrez, Interim President and Chief Executive Officer. “In addition, it expands the global regulatory pedigree of the AP1000 plant design and further confirms Westinghouse’s innovative safety technology.”
The project is designed to help secure the UK’s future energy supply by delivering affordable, low-carbon electricity as part of a balanced energy mix.
The three units planned at Moorside would benefit from Westinghouse’s experience on the world’s first eight AP1000 units, which are currently being delivered at four sites in the United States and China. Two units each are in the final stages of completion at the Sanmen and Haiyang sites in China, with an additional two units each under construction at the V.C. Summer and Vogtle sites in the U.S.
The WNA also noted that the rest of Westinghouse’s non-US operations seem to be unaffected by the chapter 11 filings.