The UK government’s nuclear policy is under renewed scrutiny as the firm behind a £20bn reactor in Wales looks set to halt construction. Japanese media reports say Hitachi will suspend on its Horizon division’s Wylfa Newydd plant this week. The company says no formal decision has yet been made. But if the project is scrapped, it will cost 400 jobs and leave the Hinkley Point power station in Somerset as the only new UK reactor still being built. In November, plans to build a nuclear power station at Moorside in Cumbria were halted after Toshiba announced it was winding up its NuGeneration subsidiary, which was behind the project. The government continues to stress that it is still in talks with Hitachi about Wylfa.
BBC 14th Jan 2019 read more »
Nick Butler: Who could blame the board of the Japanese company Hitachi if its members decide at their meeting this week to scrap plans for a new nuclear power station at Wylfa on the North Wales island of Anglesey? Hitachi has invested more than £840m in the project over the past six years. The technology has passed all the tests set by the UK’s nuclear regulator. But the company has been unable to get the government to put in place the clear and credible financial structure necessary to underpin the investment. That failure has already led other investors to abandon the new plant planned at Moorside in Cumbria. Talk of scrapping the Wylfa project could be a bargaining tactic on the part of Hitachi but the reality is probably much simpler. Hitachi’s doubts have been well signalled during the past few months and the company’s purchase of ABB’s power grid business at the end of last year gives it a range of investment choices. Given Whitehall’s chronic indecision, the company is ready to use its capital elsewhere. Hitachi’s withdrawal would mark the collapse of the energy policy adopted in 2013 by the UK’s coalition government. Facing what were believed to be ever-rising energy prices and the need to reduce carbon emissions, the policy plumped for new nuclear, promising that 35 gigawatts of new capacity would be on stream by the mid 2030s – more than replacing the first generation of nuclear plants, which would by then have reached the end of their useful lives. Because the price of gas seemed doomed to keep rising, new nuclear would come to look highly competitive over time as well as reducing dependence on imports. Since then much has changed, and the assumptions which underpinned the old policy now look laughably wrong. The costs of all forms of energy (apart from nuclear) have fallen dramatically and there is no shortage of supply. Electricity demand is down thanks to efficiency gains and new technology. The contract for the first new nuclear station being built at Hinkley Point in Somerset, which enjoys a guaranteed index-linked price for 35 years from the moment the plant is commissioned, looks exorbitant. The demise of Wylfa forces the need for a comprehensive review of energy policy. Since the UK government is too busy preparing for Brexit to focus seriously on any other issue, the review should be conducted independently. Advances in energy technology offer more possibilities each year. But, like Wylfa, those options will never be taken up unless the old outdated policy is scrapped and a more realistic approach put in place.
FT 13th Jan 2019 read more »
Hitachi may cancel its plans for a $20.5 billion nuclear power project in Wales, according to several media reports from the UK and Japan. The Japanese company is expected to determine the fate of the project at a board meeting this week.
Power Mag 13th Jan 2019 read more »
As work on the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station hangs in the balance, the engineer leading the project’s technical operations has told New Civil Engineer he is confident the team can deliver on time and on budget thanks to a risk-free design. Horizon Nuclear Power is the Hitachi-owned UK firm set up to deliver two new nuclear power stations in the UK – one at Wylfa on the Isle of Anglesey off north Wales, and the other at Oldbury, south Gloucestershire. The project could potentially cost up to £20bn. The plans are for two advanced boiling water reactors (ABWR) using a combination of Hitachi and GE technology. Horizon is hoping construction will start next year and be completed in the mid-2020s, with design maturity meaning the projects are low-risk, as Hitachi has already built four other nuclear power stations using the same technology. Horizon director of technical operations Mark Lunn said: “I’m not looking for unique. I always tell my engineers I’m looking for a boring project, not an exciting one.”
New Civil Engineer 14th Jan 2019 read more »