Hitachi halts construction work at Wylfa nuclear site

The move by Hitachi is a blow to UK plans for the replacement of ageing nuclear plants

The move by Hitachi is a blow to UK plans for the replacement of ageing nuclear plants

Duncan Hawthorne, CEO of Horizon Nuclear Power said: "We have made very strong progress on all aspects of the project's development, including the United Kingdom design of our tried and tested reactor, supply chain development and especially the building of a very capable organisation of talented and committed people". The company will continue discussions with the British government on nuclear power, it said.

Hitachi is expected to take a £2bn financial hit through its development company, Horizon Nuclear, which will also stop early work on another proposed nuclear project at Oldbury. "In the meantime we will take steps to reduce our presence but keep the option to resume development in future", Horizon CEO Duncan Hawthorne said in a statement.

"We will also engage closely with the many global and UK-based stakeholders who have strongly supported the project's development".

Business secretary Greg Clark told MPs the government had offered a guaranteed minimum price of £75 per megawatt hour and was willing to take a one-third equity stake as part of a "significant and generous package" of support, but could not go further because taxpayer value had to be maintained.

"Despite extensive negotiations and hard work by all sides, the government and Hitachi are unable to reach agreement to proceed at this stage".

"We are also reviewing alternative funding models for future nuclear projects and will update on these findings in summer 2019".

Rumours had been swirling for some time that Hitachi was planning to pull back from its United Kingdom nuclear commitments, with numerous reports emerging in Japanese press over the last few months detailing the company's trouble in finding project finance.

Hitachi's decision comes just two months after Japan's Toshiba Corp announced it was withdrawing from its nuclear new-build project in the United Kingdom and winding up NuGeneration, which had planned to build a nuclear power plant of up to 3.8 GWe gross capacity at the Moorside site in West Cumbria, using AP1000 nuclear reactor technology provided by Westinghouse.

In ten years' time only three of Britain's eight nuclear power stations will still be working.

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"While the government has had its head up its proverbial backside over Brexit, vital matters like guaranteeing the country's future energy supply appear to have gone by the wayside".

While there will be pressures to rescue the proposals, some have seen this as an opportunity to ramp up investment in renewable technologies.

"A clever move now would be for the Government to accept that the nuclear bet didn't pay off, stop holding back renewables and have an urgent rethink about the future of United Kingdom energy".

IPO-CGNP.HK will bring forward plans to build a nuclear plant in Britain, it said on Thursday, helping plug a gap left by the failure of two Japanese projects.

Thousands of jobs were set to be created in the construction of Wylfa and hundreds of employees would have been based at the site.

"The UK policy identifying the need for nuclear to play a role alongside renewables has been supported by numerous independent studies".

Horizon Nuclear Power was founded in 2009 and has its headquartered in Brockworth on the Arlington Gloucester Business Park where it employs an estimated 330 staff. British anti-nuclear campaigners have long denounced London's steadfast commitment to nuclear, urging it to focus instead on renewable sources like wind and solar. It said it may sell off Horizon if necessary.

Hitachi's departure is the latest knock to the government's ambitions to build six or more nuclear stations supplying 18 gigawatts of electricity, about a fifth of the current total generation capacity.

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