RWE npower has an option to buy two sites in the North-west that could be suitable for a new nuclear power station, one of which already has an offer of a grid connection.
Both locations, currently farmland, are on the coast of Copeland, in Cumbria. One of the pieces of land, which is near the Sellafield nuclear decommissioning centre, has received the go-ahead from the National Grid for a 3.6 gigawatt connection, sufficient to power five million homes.
No firm plans will be made before consultation with local residents, but both spots will be nominated for the government review of potential sites for new atomic plants, which closes at the end of March.
RWE is gunning for a major role in the UK's multibillion-pound nuclear renaissance. The German utility has already secured land options and a grid connection at Wylfa in Wales, and last month it formed a partnership with E.ON with a stated aim of spending £10bn building at least two new plants over the next 15 years. The joint venture hopes it will win at least two slots of land in next month's Nuclear Decommissioning Agency auction of three sites adjacent to existing nuclear stations.
"Nuclear power will be a vital part of the country's cleaner, future energy mix and will bring multimillion-pound benefits to local economies, along with thousands of jobs," Andrew Duff, the RWE chief executive, said.
EDF is the other big player to have shown its nuclear hand. The French giant paid £12.5bn for British Energy last year, and has stated it wants four reactors by 2025. The first could be up and running as early as 2017.
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