Nuclear deal boosts Cumbria's Moorside plant plans
Plans to build Europe's largest new nuclear project in Cumbria have taken a step forward after Toshiba and GDF Suez signed a deal to develop the site.
The Japanese engineering giant will take a 60% stake in Nugen, the joint venture set up to develop the plant, with the French energy company taking a 40% stake.
The plans include three reactors at the Moorside site, next to Sellafield.
Final investment decisions should be made in about four years, Nugen said.
"The Moorside new nuclear project will bring at least £10bn of investment and is expected to create up to 21,000 jobs, while also providing a reliable source of low carbon energy for over six million homes," said Energy Minister Michael Fallon.
"This announcement is a significant step towards new reactors likely to come online in 2024 and shows how attractive the UK is for investors."
Work on more detailed plans will now begin, but questions remain about how the project will be funded.
The European Commission is currently investigating whether government support for the planned new £16bn Hinkley Point nuclear plant in Somerset breaches EU rules.
The government sees a new generation of nuclear plants as an important component of the UK's overall energy mix. They will also help the government meet its carbon reduction targets, proponents argue.
The three Westinghouse reactors planned for Moorside would have a combined output of 3.4 gigawatts. Nugen says they would be able to supply almost 7% of the UK's electricity requirements.
Each of the reactors would take about four years to build.
"Moorside is the most exciting new nuclear build project in Europe," said Sandy Rupprecht, Nugen's chief executive.
"We will be taking forward our project in West Cumbria, the UK's nuclear heartland, and we expect the national and regional economies to benefit extensively."