When Hitachi swooped in to buy Wylfa Newydd from German energy giants Germany’s E.On and RWE in 2012 it was described by then PM David Cameron as a “multi-billion pound vote of confidence in the UK”. After the disappointment of the German giants abandoning the scheme it was a huge boost to the island that a global brand with the stature of Hitachi was prepared to invest. The sale price for Wylfa Newydd and Oldbury in Gloucestershire was around £700m – a major commitment from the start for the Japanese multi-national. Business Live has spoken to a number of sources at the heart of the development about what went wrong. When Tony Blair first began the process of expanding Britain’s nuclear energy portfolio in 2006 – the message from Government was clear. While they wanted a new fleet of 10 nuclear stations – including at Wylfa – taxpayers were not going to foot the bill. This was going to be left to the private sector to deal with. But a source said that all across the world it is Governments that are directly involved in developing nuclear plants – for example in France the French state backed power giant EDF both builds and operates its nuclear stations.
Daily Post 17th Sept 2020 read more »
Politicians across Wales have expressed dismay after a multi-billion pound nuclear power plant project in Anglesey was scrapped. Horizon Nuclear Power, the firm which was building the Wylfa Newydd plant, said on Monday its would be winding down its operations after its parent company – Japanese conglomerate Hitachi – decided it could not continue. Most of the workers building the site had been stood down since January 2019 after Hitachi paused the project following its failure to agree a funding package with the UK government. But local campaigners against the nuclear facility have welcomed the news, arguing it was always excessively expensive and dangerous. “A nuclear power station would have endangered lives on Anglesey and beyond, not just for our own generation but for generations to come,” People Against Wylfa B said. “It would have created tons of radioactive waste, with no solution to the problem of getting rid of the poison. It would have ruined the environment over an area which is ten times greater than the current site.” A decade had been wasted by focusing on a second power plant in North Anglesey, the group said. “Anglesey’s economic future has been put in the hands of a few people in a room in Tokyo. The hopes of a generation of young people for work in their home area were shattered.”
Independent 17th Sept 2020 read more »
Delays and cost overruns at Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C have made nuclear energy proposals an “unattractive prospect”, according to Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit analyst Jess Ralston. Ralston told NCE that delays to the UK’s two biggest nuclear construction projects, coupled with the financial attractiveness of renewable energy schemes, would have been contributing factors in Hitachi’s decision to scrap its £20bn Wylfa Newydd nuclear plant plans in Wales. Twelve months ago, Hinkley Point C developers announced that the plant was at risk of delay after the cost rose by £2.9bn. EDF’s DCO application to build Sizewell C has also been hit by delays this year due to Covid-19 restrictions and legal challenges. Hitachi subsidiary Horizon has now confirmed that it is pulling out of the Wylfa project, after Isle of Anglesey council leader Llinos Medi announced the decision on Tuesday. Ultimately Horizon concluded that Wylfa was no longer an economically viable prospect “because it was clear that further time was needed to decide on a financing structure for the Project and the conditions for building and operating the nuclear power stations”. It comes after 18 months of talks between the developer and the UK government about funding for the project. Ralston told NCE that nuclear energy is “no longer financially or politically attractive” and power plants are likely to take a back seat as investment opportunities in renewable energy schemes become more lucrative prospects.
New Civil Engineer 18th Sept 2020 read more »
One week after Japan gave British industry a morale boost by agreeing a £1.5bn trade deal, one of its biggest conglomerates – Hitachi – has thrown our energy policy into disarray. The £26.4bn business has finally walked away from plans to build a nuclear power station in Wylfa, Anglesey, blaming the “severe” investment environment created by Covid-19. The decision to throw in the towel – assuming it’s not just a hard-ball tactic – comes 20 months after it suspended the project amid rising costs. It raises further doubts over the future of nuclear power in the UK, and exactly how the government plans to meet the country’s power demands while also hitting legally binding targets to reach net zero carbon emissions. Wylfa is one of eight sites earmarked for new nuclear power stations to replace the UK’s current ageing fleet, which provide about 20pc of the nation’s electricity but almost all of which are set to come offline within the decade. Decisions on nuclear take place against significant gains in wind and solar power, leading environmental activists such as Greenpeace to declare that Hitachi’s decision is final confirmation that “Britain’s future is renewable.” Yet many experts say that wind and solar cannot pick up all of the slack, and more gas-fired power is likely to be needed if nuclear is not replaced. Gas-fired power means more carbon emissions, a blow for a government struggling to reach its net zero carbon goals. Some are pinning their hopes on carbon capture systems to make gas-fired power plants more carbon-friendly, but these are also a very long way off at scale, and also very costly. There are no easy answers amid a rapidly changing energy system and huge pressure to slash carbon emissions without lowering the power supply. Nonetheless, Hitachi’s decision is a further sign that investors won’t sit around for too long waiting for the government to work out how it wants to get there.
Telegraph 17th Sept 2020 read more »