NuGen eyes 2025 start for UK nuclear project, could overtake Hinkley

LONDON (Reuters) - NuGen expects electricity generation to start at its new nuclear project in Cumbria, Britain in 2025, the company said on Wednesday.

A road cuts through the site where EDF Energy's Hinkley Point C nuclear power station will be constructed in Bridgwater, southwest England October 24, 2013. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

The time frame means NuGen’s project could over-take EDF’s Hinkley C as the first new nuclear plant operating in the country in a generation.

“These projects are coming up together at roughly the same time,” Robert Armour, Deputy chairman of NuGen said on the sidelines of a Platts nuclear conference.

“(Hinkley) still has a few hurdles to go and the other projects are coming up behind quite quickly,” he said.

NuGen, a joint venture between Toshiba’s Westinghouse and France’s Engie, plans to build three AP1000 reactors in Cumbria which, when up and running, will be called the Moorside Nuclear Project.

It is expected to have a capacity of up to 3.8 gigawatts (GW) when all three reactors are built, around 7 percent of Britain’s total electricity demand.

The government has said new plants are needed to help replace the country’s coal plants which are scheduled to close by 2025 and its aging nuclear fleet, but no new nuclear plants have been built in the country in the last twenty years.

EDF’s 18 billion pound Hinkley C project was expected to begin production in 2023, but a final investment decision has been delayed as EDF secures partners and financing.

Paul Spence, director of strategy at EDF’s British subsidiary EDF Energy, said at the event the company still expects generation to start at Hinkley C in 2025.

EDF last week said the project would take 9.5 years to build once a decision has been taken.

This means if the decision is taken in September, as suggested by Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, Hinkley C would start up at the earliest in spring 2026.

NuGen still has to secure approval for its AP1000 reactor under the country’s Generic Design Assessment approval process, which Armour said should be complete by the first quarter of 2017.

A final investment decision will then be taken on the project in 2018, he said.

A third new nuclear plant, Hitachi’s Horizon, is also slated to start production in Britain in the 2020s.

Reporting By Susanna Twidale; Editing by Alexandra Hudson