Fukushima 3 Years Later: England Continues To Build Nuclear Power Plants

on January 16 2014 5:24 AM
Hinkley Point
A sign is seen outside Hinkley Point B Power Station in Bridgwater, southwest England in this file photograph dated Dec. 13, 2012. Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

England will soon have an extra three nuclear power plants as Japan’s Toshiba (TYO:6502) looks to buy 60 percent of a nuclear venture with NuGeneration, according to the BBC.

The deal, worth $167 million, comes as the nuclear energy industry has seen many projects scaled back or killed outright after the Fukushima nuclear power plant was destroyed by Japan's 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Three years later Japanese authorities still face critical problems with radiation leaks.

Toshiba and England's NuGeneration will construct three nuclear plants at the Moorside site in West Cumbria, about 300 miles northwest of London.

The deal "represents a major investment in the future, and in supporting the UK to meet the challenges of securing a stable, affordable, future energy supply and cutting CO2 emissions," Toshiba said in a statement.

Governments worldwide are skeptical about developing nuclear energy due to political and safety concerns. But they also have ambitious goals of reducing carbon emissions, and nuclear power is an effective choice in that regard.

Britain faces that same dilemma as it tries to diversify its energy mix and cut its carbon footprint by 80 percent by 2050.

In November the U.K. awarded France's state-owned Electricite de France SA (EPA:EDF) a contract to build the first nuclear power plant in Europe since Fukushima.

The French company and the British government have agreed in principle on key commercial terms for the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, located in southwest England, adjacent to an existing nuclear power plant that is also run by EDF.

The new project is expected to generate about 5 percent of England’s generating capacity.

British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the deal, saying it will create 25,000 jobs and bring in billions of dollars in investment.

“This also marks the next generation of nuclear power in Britain, which has an important part to play in contributing to our future energy needs,” Cameron said. The prime minister was referencing warnings by regulators that England risks electricity blackouts if it does not begin replacing old power plants.

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