Coalition including EDF, construction firms and trade unions sets out vision for new 3.2GW nuclear station linked with renewables and hydrogen production
Plans for a low carbon energy hub in south Cumbria that would link together a new 3.2GW nuclear power station with renewables projects and hydrogen production plants are being touted by a clutch of major energy firms, developers, and trade unions in the North East.
The proposed Moorside Clean Energy Hub would boast new nuclear capacity as its central pillar, with a mix of technologies deployed including a 3.2GW EPR nuclear power station alongside small modular reactors (SMRs) and advanced modular reactors (AMRs). The project backers said the approach would utilise existing local nuclear and offshore wind expertise and supply chains.
The project would also aim to link up with other renewables technologies, explore means of providing clean heat to industry in the region, and establish a centre for producing hydrogen for use as a green fuel for local transport and industrial processes, the group said.
Several of the firms backing the campaign are involved in the construction of Hinkley Point C - the UK's flagship nuclear project currently under development in Somerset - including French energy giant EDF and construction firm Balfour Beatty.
Local council members and MPs are also backing the plans, arguing that by harnessing the North West region's existing nuclear supply chain - the former Sellafield nuclear station is situated nearby, as is EDF's Heysham nuclear plant - and offshore wind expertise in the Irish Sea, the Moorside hub could boost orders for hundreds of companies in the area and create thousands of jobs.
"The council has been a long-term supporter of the development of the Moorside site for new low-carbon energy generation to make a contribution to the nation's future energy needs," said Copeland borough council's nuclear portfolio holder Councillor David Moore. "We firmly believe that nuclear technologies have a key role to play in our clean energy future and our communities have a long history of pioneering clean energy technologies."
Other members of the Moorside Clean Energy Hub project include Mott MacDonald and Cavendish Nuclear, as well as trade unions GMB, Unite, and Prospect.
It follows warnings last week from the Nuclear Industry Association that the UK's 2050 net zero emissions target risk being missed if new reactors are not built.
The technology remains controversial, however, with detractors pointing to the high costs and delays associated with recent nuclear projects such as Hinkley Point C, which have contrasted with plummeting development costs for wind and solar farms.
Ivan Baldwin, chair of Britain's Energy Coast Business Cluster, welcomed the "ambitious" Moorside Clean Energy Hub proposal, which he said could provide a major economic boost for the region.
"Cumbria's Energy Coast is a leading location for low carbon energy development, home to one of the world's largest offshore windfarms and one of the world's largest nuclear energy clusters," he said. "As with all inward investment discussions, our focus remains on maximising local business opportunities, job creation and establishing long term green collar career paths for our younger generation."
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