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Hitachi plays down Wylfa shutdown reports

Wylfa Aerial CGI View CREDIT Horizon Nuclear Power

Wylfa Aerial CGI View CREDIT Horizon Nuclear Power

Source: Horizon Nuclear Power

Hitachi has played down reports that it is planning an imminent halt to work on the Wyfla Newydd nuclear site in North Wales.

The Nikkei Asian Review claimed the Hitachi board would suspend work on the site next week and make a 200-300bn yen (£1.44bn-£2.17bn) writedown on its UK nuclear business assets.

Hitachi has struggled to find Japanese investors to help finance the project alongside funding from the UK, according to the report.

But Hitachi said it was still assessing the Wylfa project, including what the financial impact would be if it suspended work. It added that “no formal decision” had been made about the project’s immediate future.

Suspending work on the site will reportedly save the company 3-4bn yen a month.

A spokeswoman for Horizon Nuclear, which Hitachi acquired in 2012, said: “Since the secretary of state’s statement to the house in June 2018, we’ve been in formal negotiations with the UK government regarding financing of the Wylfa Newydd project in a way that works both for investors and the UK electricity customer.

“This is one of the aspects of the project development phase that must be concluded before construction of Wylfa Newydd can go ahead, but the discussions are commercially confidential and we won’t be commenting on rumours or speculation.”

Hitachi has been seeking further concessions from the UK government to reduce its risk on the scheme, according to the Nikkei Asian Review report, but had failed to make progress on this.

Measures included selling some of its stake in Horizon and securing a guaranteed price for the electricity that would be generated by the plant. 

Progress on the Wylfa project appeared to be made last October when Atkins was appointed to support the design and construction of the £15bn plant, and last August saw American giant Bechtel appointed management contractor for the job.

It was hoped that construction might start as soon as 2020 and that the plant could be generating power by 2027.

Wyfla Newydd is designed to with a capacity of 2.7 GW. Hinkley Point C, which is under construction now, has a capacity of 3.2 GW.

Read CN’s guide to the history of the Wylfa nuclear project.

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