NuGen, a U.K. nuclear company owned by Toshiba and ENGIE, said Tuesday it has signed a contract to buy land at Moorside from Britain's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).
NuGen said it plans to build three nuclear reactors at the site, next to the Sellafield nuclear site, which could provide approximately 7 percent of Britain's projected electricity needs and create up to 21,000 jobs.
NuGen now takes responsibility for the land following payment of an undisclosed amount to the NDA. The deal embodies the successful policy of selling NDA land to nuclear developers.
The NuGen board had approved the land contract signing at a meeting in Tokyo. NuGen Chief Executive Tom Samson signed the deal with the NDA Chief Executive John Clarke.
Samson said the signing was a "major milestone for NuGen's Moorside project."
"Our vendors and our expert partners are all confident we can build three reactors on the site," Samson said.
Site characterisation studies will continue at Moorside in the fall.
"The completion of this stage of the land sale brings a range of benefits both nationally and locally. It supports the initiative to have West Cumbria recognized as a center of nuclear excellence, building on over six decades of nuclear expertise in the area, while delivering excellent value for money for the taxpayer and the national economy," Clarke said.
When fully operational, the planned Moorside reactors will have a combined capacity of 3.4 GW. That energy can power up to 6 million homes. The first of the three Westinghouse AP1000 reactors are expected to come online in 2024.
"Backing the next generation of nuclear projects is a key part of our long-term plan to power the economy with clean, secure energy and keep bills as low as possible for hardworking families and businesses," Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom said.
"Moorside will be a major infrastructure project that creates jobs and economic security for thousands of people and helps to deliver the Northern Powerhouse."