UK of­fers $18b loan for Wales nu­clear project

Some say the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment is too ea­ger to help Ja­pan’s Hi­tachi Ltd build nu­clear re­ac­tors in Wales

Viet Nam News - - ASIA BUSINESS -

TOKYO — The Bri­tish gov­ern­ment is of­fer­ing to shoul­der two tril­lion yen (US$18 bil­lion) in loans and other means to cover a huge por­tion of the cost of a project pur­sued by Hi­tachi Ltd to build nu­clear re­ac­tors in Wales, a source close to the mat­ter said yes­ter­day.

With the pro­posal aimed at eas­ing con­cerns about swelling costs that have bal­looned to three tril­lion yen, the Ja­panese maker of ma­chin­ery and in­fra­struc­ture sys­tems will make a de­ci­sion, pos­si­bly this week, on whether to go ahead with the project, the source said.

If it de­cides to con­tinue, Hi­tachi is set to ex­change a doc­u­ment that would serve as a ba­sic agree­ment with the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment.

But ob­servers have ques­tioned whether the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment could implement the pro­posal worth two tril­lion yen, as some mem­bers of the Bri­tish par­lia­ment are op­posed to ex­tend­ing ex­ces­sive fi­nan­cial sup­port to the nu­clear project.

Hi­tachi had ap­plied for a site li­cense to build two ad­vanced boil­ing wa­ter re­ac­tors on the Isle of An­gle­sey in Wales, to be over­seen by its Bri­tish nu­clear unit Hori­zon Nu­clear Power Ltd. It aims to start op­er­a­tion from the first half of the 2020s.

But con­cerned about the op­er­a­tional costs, Hi­tachi Chair­man Hiroaki Nakan­ishi made a per­sonal re­quest to Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May on May 3 for sup­port for the nu­clear plant con­struc­tion op­er­a­tions.

Hi­tachi has in­di­cated that should talks over the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment’s proposed fund­ing prove dif­fi­cult, the com­pany may with­draw from the project. The to­tal cost of the project has swelled due to in­creased costs for safety mea­sures.

Hi­tachi ac­quired Hori­zon Nu­clear Power in 2012 as it aimed to ex­pand its nu­clear power busi­ness abroad amid dim prospects for new re­ac­tor de­mand in Ja­pan in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima cri­sis.

Progress in Hi­tachi’s over­seas nu­clear project comes as a boost for Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe’s pol­icy goal of ex­port­ing nu­clear power tech­nol­ogy to other na­tions to drive eco­nomic growth at a time when other nu­clear projects abroad in­volv­ing Ja­panese com­pa­nies have been strug­gling.

Among Hi­tachi’s ri­vals, in­dus­trial con­glom­er­ate Toshiba Corp. has also pulled out of over­seas nu­clear op­er­a­tions af­ter in­cur­ring huge losses in its atomic busi­ness in the United States.

A nu­clear power plant project in Turkey, pur­sued by Mit­subishi Heavy In­dus­tries Ltd., has also hit a snag owing to a surge in safe­tyre­lated costs. — KY­ODO

Scale model of GE Hi­tachi Nu­clear En­ergy’s Eco­nomic Sim­pli­fied Boil­ing Wa­ter Re­ac­tor (ESBWR), a pas­sively safe gen­er­a­tion III+ re­ac­tor, on dis­play in Tokyo, Ja­pan. — Photo

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