PLUS: Spec­u­la­tion mounts Hi­tachi will pull plug on Wylfa nu­clear power sta­tion pro­ject:

Western Mail - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID WIL­LIAMSON Po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor david.wil­[email protected]­

THE FU­TURE of the planned Wylfa Newydd nu­clear power sta­tion on An­gle­sey is shrouded in uncer­tainty af­ter Hi­tachi re­sponded to a re­port that con­struc­tion would be sus­pended by say­ing that “no for­mal de­ci­sion” had been taken.

The Nikkei Asian Re­view re­ported that Hi­tachi plans to put the pro­ject on hold be­cause fund­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with the UK gov­ern­ment have “hit an im­passe”.

It claimed that the “dead­lock looks set to sink Ja­pan’s last over­seas nu­clear pro­ject”.

Hi­tachi con­firmed it has been as­sess­ing the “po­ten­tial sus­pen­sion” of the pro­ject.

“No for­mal de­ci­sion has been made in this re­gard cur­rently, while Hi­tachi has been as­sess­ing the Hori­zon Pro­ject in­clud­ing its po­ten­tial sus­pen­sion and re­lated fi­nan­cial im­pacts in terms of eco­nomic ra­tio­nal­ity as a pri­vate com­pany,” said a spokesman.

“Should any mat­ter arise which needs to be dis­closed, Hi­tachi will an­nounce the in­for­ma­tion in a timely man­ner.”

The Fi­nan­cial Times re­ported: “Ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with fi­nanc­ing dis­cus­sions for the Wylfa plant, a lack of firm in­vestor com­mit­ments means Hi­tachi can no longer keep put­ting money into the so­called Hori­zon pro­ject and will an­nounce it is to pull the plug at a board meet­ing next week.”

The de­vel­op­ment of the nu­clear site was ex­pected to be a ma­jor source of em­ploy­ment on An­gle­sey and a boost to the re­gion’s econ­omy. The Welsh Gov­ern­ment de­scribed the sit­u­a­tion as “wor­ry­ing” and the Prospect trade union warned of the risk of the UK sleep­walk­ing into an “en­ergy se­cu­rity cri­sis”.

Here is the Welsh Gov­ern­ment’s state­ment: “Re­ports on Wylfa this morn­ing are wor­ry­ing. This is a ma­jor pro­ject with sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic ben­e­fits to Wales and the rest of the coun­try.

“We will con­tinue to mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion very care­fully and press the UK gov­ern­ment to do ev­ery­thing it can to help bring this pro­ject to An­gle­sey.”

The FT re­ports that in the ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the UK gov­ern­ment and Hi­tachi a “strike price” – the guar­an­teed amount that will be paid for power gen­er­ated at the plant – of “about £75 per megawatt hour” is on the ta­ble. Fu­ture re­ac­tors on the site could have a strike price of just £60.

This is “much lower than the sup­port pro­vided to Hink­ley Point C, which had a strike price of £92.50 per MWh”. It is claimed the Trea­sury is scep­ti­cal about En­ergy Sec­re­tary Greg Clark’s idea that the UK gov­ern­ment could take a di­rect stake in the pro­ject.

The Nikkei Asian Re­view re­ports that “Hi­tachi had trou­ble find­ing cor­po­rate in­vestors in Ja­pan” to back the pro­ject and that “mount­ing op­po­si­tion to May’s gov­ern­ment within par­lia­ment over Brexit has raised ques­tions about the fu­ture of UK nu­clear pol­icy”. It says the “sus­pen­sion will spare Hi­tachi from shelling out 3bn yen to 4bn yen a month on the plant”.

Hori­zon Nu­clear Power, the subsidiary of Hi­tachi which is ded­i­cated to de­vel­op­ing new nu­clear power sta­tions, re­leased the fol­low­ing state­ment: “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 had agreed to take over the Hori­zon pro­ject in 2012 af­ter it was put up for sale by RWE and E.ON. It had been hoped the new plant would have a gen­er­at­ing ca­pac­ity of 2,900 MW by the mid­dle of the next decade.

A spokesman for the Depart­ment for Busi­ness, En­ergy & In­dus­trial Strat­egy said: “Ne­go­ti­a­tions with Hi­tachi on agree­ing a deal that pro­vides value for money for con­sumers and tax­pay­ers on the Wylfa pro­ject are on­go­ing. They are com­mer­cially sen­si­tive and we do not com­ment on spec­u­la­tion.”

Op­po­nents of the nu­clear power pro­ject wel­comed the pos­si­bil­ity it could be sus­pended. The cam­paign­ing group Peo­ple Against Wylfa B (PAWB) said in a state­ment: “Should the news be con­firmed at a meet­ing of the Hi­tachi Board next week then it will be a re­lief for all of us who worry about the fu­ture of our is­land, our coun­try, our lan­guage, our en­vi­ron­ment and in­deed, re­new­able en­ergy. PAWB has warned for years that the costs as­so­ci­ated with the Wylfa pro­ject would be likely to prove fa­tal to the pro­ject, but we were ig­nored.

“Con­se­quently, mil­lions of tax­pay­ers’ money from the is­land, Wales and the UK was in­vested to back Wylfa B. In ad­di­tion, huge po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal has been in­vested, and there has been a fail­ure to have a ma­ture pub­lic dis­cus­sion about the pro­ject other than in terms of cash and jobs.

“The legacy of this, if the re­ports from Ja­pan prove to be true, is that over a decade has been wasted on Wylfa, with very lit­tle al­ter­na­tive eco­nomic plan­ning in ev­i­dence. Our young peo­ple have been promised jobs on very shaky foun­da­tions.

“Good land has been de­stroyed to cre­ate in­fra­struc­ture to back the pro­ject. It is time for politi­cians and of­fi­cials from the UK gov­ern­ment, the Welsh Gov­ern­ment and An­gle­sey to ad­mit that they were wrong.

“Wales is rich in nat­u­ral re­sources which can be used to cre­ate a vi­brant and sus­tain­able en­ergy fu­ture, and above all else cre­ate more jobs in less time than Wylfa would have done.”

Dr Doug Parr, Chief Sci­en­tist for Green­peace UK, said: “The gov­ern­ment’s en­ergy pol­icy is in tat­ters, but this is the op­po­site of a dis­as­ter. We could have locked our­selves into re­liance on an ob­so­lete, un­af­ford­able tech­nol­ogy, but we’ve been given the chance to think again and make a bet­ter de­ci­sion.

“Our ur­gent, im­me­di­ate dilemma – how to main­tain se­cu­rity of sup­ply whilst cut­ting car­bon – can be solved by mak­ing off­shore wind, at half the cost of nu­clear, the back­bone of the new power sys­tem. The fail­ure of the old tech­nol­ogy is the op­por­tu­nity the new tech­nolo­gies need, and Bri­tain’s world-lead­ing off­shore wind in­dus­try’s time has come.”

Cham­pi­ons of tidal en­ergy were disappointed in 2017 when the UK gov­ern­ment de­clined to back plans for the Swansea Bay Tidal La­goon on eco­nomic grounds.

An­gle­sey was home to a nu­clear power sta­tion near Ce­maes un­til its clo­sure in 2015 af­ter more than four decades of op­er­a­tions.

The Wylfa B pro­ject was thought to have the po­ten­tial to sup­port 6,000 jobs dur­ing the con­struc­tion process and pro­vide up to 1,000 po­si­tions once op­er­a­tional.

Jonathan Bart­ley, the co-leader of the Green Party, said: “Good to see work on the Wylfa nu­clear plant sus­pended. The whole pro­ject should be aban­doned. It be­longs in the past.”

Hi­tachi’s an­nounce­ment comes in the same week that Theresa May met Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe.

Sue Ferns, of the Prospect trade union, was alarmed by the pos­si­ble sus­pen­sion of the pro­ject.

She said: “This is ex­tremely wor­ry­ing news, es­pe­cially com­ing in the wake of Toshiba’s re­cent with­drawal from the Moor­side pro­ject. To lose one ma­jor nu­clear pro­ject is a se­ri­ous blow, to lose two in six months would set alarm bells ring­ing about the sin­cer­ity of the gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to new nu­clear.

“The gov­ern­ment must not sleep­walk into an en­ergy se­cu­rity cri­sis by al­low­ing these projects to fail.”

> The nu­clear re­ac­tor at Wylfa on An­gle­sey

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