U.S. companies said to be in talks with U.K. on Welsh nuclear project

November 11, 2020, 3:00PMNuclear News

Artist's concept of the Wylfa Newydd project. Image: Horizon Nuclear Power

The London-based newspaper Financial Times is reporting that a consortium of U.S. firms is holding discussions with the U.K. government to revive Wylfa Newydd, the nuclear new-build project in Wales from which Tokyo-based Hitachi Ltd. withdrew in September. According to the November 10 FT story—which is based on an anonymous source—the consortium is led by Bechtel and includes Southern Company and Westinghouse.

Quotes: Tom Greatrex, chief executive officer of the U.K. Nuclear Industry Association, told FT that it was “entirely unsurprising that a site as good as Wylfa—with Welsh government support, closely linked to the northwest supply chain, and with strong local community backing—is of interest to potential developers.”

In its own report, however, Agence France Presse was unable to confirm the talks, quoting a Bechtel spokesperson as saying only that the company “has been involved in the Wylfa project from the start—and we remain committed to working with our partners in the U.K. and abroad to deliver the best clean energy solutions to power millions of homes.”

Background: Despite the Hitachi withdrawal, hopes for Wylfa Newydd were somewhat rekindled at the end of September when the United Kingdom’s Planning Inspectorate agreed to delay its decision regarding the issuance of a development consent order (DCO) for the project. The original deadline for the decision had been September 30, but following the receipt of two letters from Horizon Nuclear Power—the Hitachi subsidiary in charge of the project—the inspectorate consented to a December 31 extension.

In one of those letters, Horizon Nuclear’s chief executive officer, Duncan Hawthorne, said that his firm “has been engaged in discussions with third parties that have expressed an interest in progressing with the development of new nuclear generation at the Wylfa Newydd site in Anglesey, Wales. These discussions are still at an early stage, and it is felt that a short deferral would allow time for Horizon and those interested parties to determine whether, and if so, how the Wylfa Newydd DCO project could be taken forward in Hitachi Ltd.’s absence.”

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