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Hitachi pulls out of the Wylfa nuclear power station project

Japan’s Hitachi is to end its involvement in the Horizon Project to develop a nuclear power station at Wylfa Newydd in Anglesey, North- West Wales, having first suspended its work on the project in January 2019 to give time for the UK government to decide on a financing structure.

The company says it made this new decision given that 20 months have passed since the suspension, and the investment environment has become increasingly severe due to the impact of COVID-19.

Hitachi says it will coordinate with the government and relevant organisations regarding its cooperation as the owner of reactor design licence and the handling of the planned construction sites and other matters.

Reacting to the news, Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, expressed his disappointment, adding that ‘the government can secure the economic and environmental opportunities [of new nuclear plants] for future generations by setting out a clear pathway for new nuclear power in forthcoming policy announcements.’

The GMB Union also pointed to a failure by government to support this and other proposed nuclear plants. National Secretary Justin Bowden said: ‘This utterly predictable announcement from Hitachi is outcome of successive government failures to act decisively around new nuclear, and in particular how it is financed. The fanciful experiment of trying to get foreign companies or governments to fund our future energy needs leaves most ordinary citizens in this country bewildered.’

Another trade union, Unite, said that the government should unveil its long-awaited energy White Paper urgently to allay fears about the future of the UK’s nuclear industry.

The Horizon announcement came a fortnight after Britain’s nuclear power industry set out a new framework to cut the cost of building new power stations in the UK. In a report: Nuclear New Build Cost Reduction, a cross-industry team, working as part of the government-backed Nuclear Sector Deal, set out a series of measures to reduce risk and bring down costs by 30% by 2030.

Sections include rigorous pre-construction planning, with simplicity of design and construction methodology; repeating designs across multiple stations; and building-up and transferring a skilled and experienced workforce to new projects. The report also identifies how a new financing model that controls construction risk would bring down consumer costs by mobilising a wider pool of investors and cutting the cost of capital.

Meanwhile, EDF has announced that, following approval from the UK nuclear regulator, Hunterston B in North Ayrshire, Scotland, is to restart generating electricity – but will move to the decommissioning phase by January 2022. The twin advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) unit power station began generating power in 1976, but was taken off-line in 2018 after cracks were found in the graphite bricks that form the reactor core, reports NucNet.

News Item details

Journal title: Energy World

Subjects: COVID-19 - Nuclear -

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