Toshiba is pulling out of a nuclear power project in Cumbria after failing to find a buyer, it said today.
The Japanese conglomerate said it would begin winding up its Nugeneration subsidiary, which was overseeing the construction of the power plant, and expects to record losses of roughly ¥15bn (£100m) as a result.
The company said the decision to withdraw from the project was a result of its policy of minimising risk. Toshiba is attempting to rebuild its finances following the sale of its bankrupt US nuclear business Westinghouse.
The announcement may signal the end of the road for the proposed Moorside nuclear power station in west Cumbria, which Toshiba had hoped to open by 2024. It is also a blow for the government’s plans to move towards renewable energy sources.
South Korean energy company Korea Electric Power Company (Kepco) emerged last year as the preferred bidder for the project. But Toshiba said it did not expect to complete a sale this financial year and said the additional costs of running the project did not make it economically viable.
“Toshiba recognises that the economically rational decision is to withdraw from the UK nuclear power plant construction project, and has resolved to take steps to wind-up Nugen,” Toshiba said in a statement.
UK unions today criticised the withdrawal, saying thousands of future jobs in the north-west are dependent on the plant.
Justin Bowden, national secretary of union GMB, said: “The British government has blood on its hands as the final sad but predictable nail is banged into the coffin of Toshiba’s jinxed jaunt into nuclear power.
“Relying in this way on foreign companies for our country’s essential energy needs was always irresponsible."
A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) said: “We understand that Toshiba have faced a difficult decision in ending their involvement in new nuclear projects outside of Japan in light of their well-known financial challenges.
“All proposed new nuclear projects in the UK are led by private sector developers and while the government has engaged regularly with the companies involved, this is entirely a commercial decision for Toshiba."