In Brief

Toshiba travails pose another threat to UK's nuclear future

Company is said to be touting for new investment as costs of its accounting scandal bite

First it was Hinkley Point, now it's Moorside. Another project to add to the UK's new generation of nuclear power plants has apparently hit the rocks.

Sources "with direct knowledge of the matter" told Reuters that Toshiba is asking around among Japanese financial institutions for help to fund the Moorside project, being built near the Sellafield site in west Cumbria. The plant will house three reactors designed by Toshiba subsidiary Westinghouse Electric to produce 3.4 gigawatts of power, slightly more than Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Two years ago the project was estimated to cost around £8bn, the Guardian notes, but this could have doubled since, as the assumed cost of labour and meeting stringent regulations has increased. Reuters says Toshiba's share of the costs would be £2bn, but since its accounting scandal it is now thought to have "become difficult for Toshiba to do this on its own".

The sources said Toshiba "had made requests to Japanese insurers as well as some banks, including Norinchukin Bank, and has hired HSBC as a financial adviser".

Hinkley Point has itself been delayed a number of times, in part because of financing concerns as costs on the project, which is being led by French power company EDF, have spiralled to £18bn. Eventually a deal with Chinese state energy developers in October put the plant back on track and work could begin before the end of the year.

The new nuclear reactors, to come online by 2024, are part of a major energy haul by the government. Energy minister Amber Rudd announced last month that all of Britain's coal-fired power stations would be closed by 2025, but she has faced criticism that she has not adequately replaced this capacity and has reneged on climate commitments.

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