The Japanese consortium behind the UK’s largest planned new nuclear project has unveiled an annual loss of almost $9bn (£6.9bn), underlining the stark risks of the Government’s high-cost nuclear ambitions.
Toshiba has delayed publishing its full-year results while teams of auditors pore over the financial damage wrought by the collapse of its US-based nuclear developer Westinghouse, before finally revealing the $8.8bn (£6.7bn) loss for 2016 three months later than planned.
The electronics giant has avoided crashing out of the Tokyo stock exchange for filing its accounts late, but its commitment to building the Moorside power plant in Cumbria remains in doubt.
Toshiba is now the only investor propping up the Nugeneration consortium that plans to build the 3.8GW Moorside project, and the approved reactor design is Westinghouse-made.
The GMB union said the “fiasco” over Toshiba’s financial state “highlights the folly of allowing foreign companies to be in control of the UK’s critical future energy needs”.
Justin Bowden, GMB’s national secretary, said Government action was “long overdue”.
“The chaos at Toshiba must shake the Government out of its stupor of inertia and produce action to ensure the zero carbon electricity we vitally need is produced at Moorside.
“The fact Toshiba – a major investor on a vital UK energy project – has published such a dire set of results highlights once again the sheer folly of leaving it to a foreign company to keep Britain’s lights on.
“The big question is the same as it has been for months – what is the Government doing to take control of the situation?” he said.
Westinghouse entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US earlier this year after delays at two US reactors caused costs to spiral. The 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan has also sapped global demand for new nuclear reactors.
Toshiba is in the process of trying to sell its prized microchip business to cover its hefty losses but is unlikely to commit to building new nuclear plants without the help of fresh investment.
The £18bn Moorside project is a central pillar of the UK’s atomic energy programme, which is also under threat from plans to exit Euratom, the pan-European nuclear agreement, as part of the Brexit process.
A spokesperson for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was not immediately available to comment.
Source: The Telegraph