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Wylfa £15bn nuclear plant: What, who and when?

After Wylfa’s developer announced three more appointments this week, CN recaps what the plans involve, who’s on site and what happens next.

What are the plans for Wylfa?

Set to be the second facility in the new generation of nuclear plants after Hinkley Point C, Wylfa’s site is located on the Welsh island of Anglesey next to the former Magnox station, which was closed in 2015.

The station will have a capacity of 2.7 GW – enough to power five million homes, though slightly less than Hinkley’s 3.2 GW. At its peak, construction work on the scheme is expected to require 8,500 personnel.

Developer Horizon Nuclear Power, a wholly owned subsidiary of Japanese technology giant Hitachi, will use Hitachi’s UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) at Wylfa, which received design approval from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) in December 2017. The developer plans to use two more ABWRs at its site in Oldbury in south Gloucestershire, plans for which are at a much earlier stage.

How will Wylfa be funded?

Unlike Hinkley, which received no public money towards construction, energy secretary Greg Clark has said the government could partially fund Wylfa’s delivery. Horizon Nuclear Power began negotiating with the government in June this year on a possible deal.

A three-way funding approach has been mooted, under which Hitachi, the UK government and the Japanese government (potentially through its export credit agency) would take equal stakes. This would leave a £5bn contribution from UK taxpayers, and represent a u-turn after the government previously ruled out taking a share in nuclear builds.

There will also need to be agreement over the plant’s strike price – the guaranteed rate Horizon will receive for each MWh produced – with a figure of £77.50 having been mooted so far. Hinkley Point C, in contrast, agreed a strike price of £92.50 with the government.

Which companies are working on Wylfa?

This week saw the latest appointments to the £15bn project.

Atkins will support the civil engineering design for the island, KBR will work on project controls, and Wood will provide its services for the island’s architectural engineering.

In August this year Bechtel was named project management contractor. The US firm will oversee the scheme and head up contractual and commercial matters with the supply chain on Horizon’s behalf.

Bechtel already had nearly 200 staff working with Horizon under its existing EPC contractor role, to which it was appointed alongside Japanese contractor JGC in May 2016.

August also saw Horizon announce that it had signed a further contract for JGC to continue providing support during the project’s development stage.

Back in 2013 as initial development gathered momentum, Atkins, Amec and Cavendish Nuclear won three-year deals to provide consultancy and technical design services to Horizon.

What happens next?

Horizon submitted its application for a development consent order – as well as one for a marine licence – to the Planning Inspectorate in June this year.

The DCO application ran to 41,000 pages and its examination phase is expected to commence this autumn. The process is set to take 18 months, with stakeholders and the public being invited to comment on and potentially challenge the proposals.

Final agreement over a funding model and strike price meanwhile could take up to 24 months.

At present, the nuclear plant is tentatively expected to begin generating power by 2027.

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