Hitachi's plans to build the plant had been on hold for 20 months Photo: AFP/File
business

Hitachi scraps UK nuclear power plant project

10 Comments
By Paul ELLIS

Hitachi said Wednesday it is pulling out of a multi-billion-pound nuclear power plant project in Wales, citing a worsening investment environment, in a blow to Britain's low-carbon energy ambitions.

The project in Anglesey had already been suspended for 20 months "and the investment environment has become increasingly severe due to the impact of COVID-19", the Japanese firm said in a statement.

The company said it would coordinate with the UK government and others on the fate of its licences and planned sites given the withdrawal decision.

The Japanese industrial giant's plans to build two reactors at the Wylfa Newydd site in Wales had been on hold since January 2019 because of financing concerns.

The cost of building the plant on Anglesey, off northwest Wales, had been estimated at up to £20 billion ($25.7 billion, 21.7 billion euros).

Its targeted production capacity was nearly three gigawatts -- enough to supply around six percent of Britain's electricity needs.

As recently as last month, Hitachi's Horizon Nuclear subsidiary had insisted it was still committed to the project but news of the planned withdrawal emerged in the Japanese media this week, prompting dismay in Anglesey.

"If this decision is confirmed then it will be a devastating blow to the Anglesey economy," council leader Llinos Medi said in a statement on Tuesday.

Hitachi had been waiting for the British government's latest energy strategy, which is still unpublished but could potentially include new financing models for the nuclear industry.

Britain's nuclear power plants built in the last century have either closed or are coming to the end of their lifespan.

But the country wants to maintain the 20 percent of electricity it gets from the nuclear sector, to help meet its pledge to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 and tackle climate change.

The Hinkley Point scheme, in western England, is currently the only nuclear project under construction and is due to be completed in 2025.

Hitachi's decision comes against a backdrop of concern at Chinese involvement in Britain's nuclear industry, and strained diplomatic ties between London and Beijing.

Lawmakers have been asking questions about China General Nuclear Power's (CGN) involvement in several projects, including one in partnership with France's EDF.

The move also puts another dent in Japanese attempts to expand its nuclear businesses overseas after the Fukushima catastrophe effectively halted demand for new reactors in Japan.

In 2018, Toshiba also pulled the plug on a nuclear power plant in northwest England.

© 2020 AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

10 Comments
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Of course, Boris Johnson breaking international law had no bearing whatsoever on Hitachi's decision.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Anything to do with Brexit?

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Left unsaid are the problems with metallurgy in the end caps of the reactors, made in China.

Nuclear power always was a Faustian bargain.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The pound is sinking fast so the contracts are losing value.Theres no skin in the game for Hitachi now...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Not to worry, China will move right inn.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Mark, no they won't.

Archaic design we can do without. There are better newer, intrinsically safer designs and the concept of one huge plant is just so last century! Better to have a number of smaller plants so as not to put too many eggs in one basket.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Archaic design we can do without. There are better newer, intrinsically safer designs and the concept of one huge plant is just so last century! Better to have a number of smaller plants so as not to put too many eggs in one basket.

Siting is one major, possibly insurmountable, obstacle your idea of multiple small plants. Not too many locales are willing to be the home of a nuclear power plant. If one can only build a few such plants then the only way to take advantage of the benefits of nuclear power is to build large plants with large power production.

If you consider the necessities of a nuclear power plant that are beyond what are needed for other types of thermal power production, the heavy containment structures, redundant cooling, holding areas for spent fuel rods and the security required multiple small plants make little sense.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Desert Tortoise, the problems you highlight are why the archaic designs are no longer valid. Modern designs are intrinsically safer, do not need the massive containment or the cooling pools as they don’t use rods and also burn over 95% of the fuel whereas the old types only burn 5%. Changing people’s perceptions will however take time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Modern designs are intrinsically safer, do not need the massive containment or the cooling pools as they don’t use rods and also burn over 95% of the fuel whereas the old types only burn 5%.

None of these so-called 4th Generation reactor designs are tested and proven yet. Some are only theoretical at this point. There is no ready to build design. If a nation needs power plant now or in the foreseeable future it will be a pressurized water cooled reactor. No smart electric authority is going to lay out big money on an unproven design.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Soviet and US Navy both tried sodium cooled reactors and both navies took them out and replaced them with water cooled reactors. As soon as you shut them down for maintenance the liquid metal solidifies and the whole cooling system is ruined. I think it was USS Halibut, the Navy had to rip the whole reactor out of the sub and replace it with a water cooled reactor. Waste of money.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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