Britain on Nuclear Alert after Hitachi Freezes £20 Billion Plant Project

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Britain’s nuclear power ambitions were in doubt on Thursday when Hitachi shelved a £20 billion project, following Prime Minister Theresa May’s overwhelming defeat of her Brexit deal.

The Japanese conglomerate confirmed it is suspending plans to construct nuclear power station in North Wales and would take a multi-billion pound write-down.

The £16 billion Wylfa plant on Anglesey was focused to be the next in construction of new plants nuclear plants after Hinkley Point C, but Hitachi has become the second firm in two months to abandon a major nuclear power project, sending a major blow to Britain’s energy strategy.

According to Evening Standard (ES), since June 2018, the company has been in talks with the UK government about funding the equity portion of Horizon Nuclear Power project which will make the deal economically viable. However, both the sides failed to reach an agreement.

The decision to freeze the project was made from the economic standpoint as a private enterprise, Hitachi said. Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said that Hitachi and the Government are unable to reach an agreement to proceed the project, despite extensive negotiations.

The Japanese company bought the Wylfa project for £697 million in 2012 after acquiring a joint venture between RWE and E.ON to extend its UK nuclear ambitions, ES reported.

Financing plans included securing backers and the Government to invest in equity portion of the project with Hitachi, contributing nearly one-third of the financing, with the rest coming from loans.

The company said it will continue to extend their discussions with UK government regarding a nuclear power programme and remain committed to Britain, where it makes digital equipment and trains.

The reactors, including second Hitachi plant at Oldbury, would have created around 850 jobs and up to 4000 construction workforce. It will also involve job losses of around 300 staff at Hitachi’s UK subsidiary, Horizon Nuclear Power, news reported.

Duncan Hawthrone, chief executive of Horizon Nuclear Power said that Hitachi was starting consultation with the staff about the next steps. Despite the best efforts of everyone involved, it could not reach an agreement, he added.

On Thursday, Hitachi said it would take a 300 billion yen hit from withdrawing Wylfa and a further 300 billion yen impairment.

In November 2018, Toshiba scrapped plans to construct nuclear power plant in Cumbria from its NuGeneration subsidiary which left a huge hole in Britain’ energy policy.

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