South Korea's state-run power company Korea Electric Power Corporation(KEPCO) has been selected as the preferred bidder in a 21 trillion-won project to build nuclear power plants in Britain.
KEPCO said in a statement Wednesday that Toshiba, which has a 60 percent stake in the NuGen consortium in charge of building three nuclear reactors in Cumbria, northwest England, picked KEPCO as its preferred bidder.
The statement said the selection does not mean the firm secured the contract, adding that KEPCO and Toshiba will negotiate terms over the next few months.
Toshiba took over the U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric Company in 2006 in a five-point-four billion-dollar deal. But it later decided to withdraw from nuclear reactor projects and sell its NuGen stake after seeing losses from tighter nuclear reactor regulations worldwide.
If KEPCO signs the contract, it would be its first such deal since 2009 when it won a 20 billion-dollar deal to build four nuclear power plants in the United Arab Emirates.
The construction of the UK plants is aimed to be completed by 2030, after which electricity generated at the plants is set to be sold for over 35 years.
The preferred bidder competition was a race against China. But KEPCO came out as the winner through its aggressive contacts with the British government and the nuclear industry.
The candidate reactor model to be exported to Britain is expected to be the EU-APR, which is a variation of KEPCO's domestically developed APR 1400 reactor specifically designed to meet European safety standards.
The APR 1400 has been exported to the UAE and also been applied to a number of domestic reactors at home.
Currently in Europe, there is increasing demand for new nuclear reactors to replace existing ones. If the latest deal is finalized, it will open up a floodgate of Korean-style nuclear power plant exports to the EU.
If negotiations between KEPCO and Toshiba progress smoothly over the next several months and related procedures for each country's government are also completed, KEPCO will be taking over Toshiba's stake in the project.
KEPCO said that if the entire process runs smoothly, it will sign a takeover contract in the first half of next year and earnestly jump into the British power plant project.