Restart of Wales nuclear project could be on horizon

August 20, 2020, 6:57AMNuclear News

Horizon Nuclear Power is in talks with the U.K. government to revitalize plans to build the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant in northwestern Wales, the Financial Times reported last week.

What they’re saying: “What I’ve been trying to do over the last period is convince people that our suspension has not in any way undermined our ability to restart quickly,” Horizon’s chief nuclear officer, Duncan Hawthorne, told the Times. “We are ready to go . . .  but the funding model needs to be in place. We’ve got a competitively priced project that will generate jobs quickly and really fuel the economy in the region the plant is in. If we can’t make our transaction viable in this environment, then it’s never going to happen.”

Background: Formed in 2009 to develop new nuclear power stations in the United Kingdom, Horizon was acquired by Hitachi in November 2012. The following year, Horizon announced plans to construct two advanced boiling water reactors on the island of Anglesey, off the northwest coast of North Wales, next to the now-shuttered Wylfa nuclear power station. The new plant would be called Wylfa Newydd—Welsh for “New Wylfa.”

In December 2017, U.K. regulators approved Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy’s ABWR design following the completion of the required generic design assessment. In 2018, Hitachi entered into negotiations with the British government regarding various options for governmental support of the Wylfa Newydd project, including the potential for equity and debt investments.

In January of last year, however, Hitachi announced that it was suspending the project after failing to reach a financing agreement with the government. In its announcement, Hitachi said that it was “clear that further time is needed to develop a financial structure for the Horizon project and the conditions for building and operating the nuclear power stations.” Horizon’s Hawthorne added that the option to resume development in the future would be kept open and that the company remained convinced that Wylfa Newydd was the best site for nuclear development in the United Kingdom.

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