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New plans submitted for energy hub on nuclear site in Cumbria, UK

09 July 2020

A group of companies and trade unions, including energy giant EDF, submitted new proposals on June 30 for an energy hub to be built in Cumbria, north west England. Previous plans for the Moorside site were scrapped in 2018 after Japanese company Toshiba Corporation failed to find a buyer for its UK subsidiary NuGen which was set to build a nuclear power station at the site near Sellafield.

The new Moorside plant could re-use designs from Hinkley Point C - Image: EDF
The new Moorside plant could re-use designs from Hinkley Point C - Image: EDF

The Moorside Clean Energy Hub includes leading businesses, trade unions and individuals such as Altrad, Atkins, Balfour Beatty Bailey, Bilfinger, Cavendish Nuclear, Doosan Babcock, EDF, GMB, Jacobs, Laing O’Rourke, Mott MacDonald, Mace, Prospect, Quod, Unite the Union, and Professor John Fyfe CBE (economic development specialist).

The hub said that its proposals include plans for a 3.2 GW nuclear power plant, which will be similar to EDF’s Hinkley Point C plant currently being built in Somerset, as well as both small modular reactors (SMRs) and advanced modular reactors (AMRs). Many of the companies involved in the Moorside Hub are also involved in EDF’s Sizewell C project which is re-using the designs for Hinkley Point C. A similar method could be used for the nuclear plant planned for Moorside.

By linking the nuclear plants to other energy technologies, such as renewables and green hydrogen, the members aim to create an integrated Clean Energy Hub for the North West. The hub hopes to capitalise on the region’s existing nuclear supply chain and could boost orders for hundreds of companies and create thousands of jobs. 

The hub will support the UK in its efforts to meet its net-zero targets by 2050. Some of the proposals submitted by the group have been published in a brochure

The hub will initially be promoted by its members before being majority owned by investors. Support from the UK Government is likely to be required. The government is also expected to support EDF’s Sizewell C project, however no announcement has been made yet. 

Unite the Union said in a statement that the Moorside Hub could lead to a “jobs bonanza”. Unite regional secretary for the north west Ritchie James said: “The launch of this initiative is to be warmly welcomed. The north west region is reeling from the adverse economic impact of Covid-19 with thousands of jobs across all sectors under severe threat as the furlough scheme tapers off. 

“The fact that this consortium is looking beyond tomorrow and into a low carbon future is good news, given that there could be a post-pandemic 25,000 jobs bonanza across the region if this takes off.”

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