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What next for Wylfa Newydd?



After much equivocation and debate the UK government, in a statement to Parliament, has announced that it is considering investing £5bn-plus in the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station project based on Anglesey in North Wales.

The news is sure to be welcomed by the UK nuclear industry, especially as the project is expected to generate thousands of jobs and generate low carbon power for around 5m homes (which equates to approximately 6% of UK demand).

The project is to be developed by Horizon Nuclear Power, who are owned by the Japanese company Hitachi. The plant is set to include two reactors with a combined capacity of 2.9GW, and will replace the former Magnox Wylfa Power Station which sits adjacent to the planned site.
Wylfa Newydd is set to be developed by Horizon Nuclear Power which is owned by Japanese firm Hitachi
(Image via Horizon Nuclear Power).

It is predicted that Wylfa Newydd will create up to 850 permanent jobs with a construction workforce of around 4,000 workers for the majority of the time, with between 8,000 and 10,000 workers during peak periods.

The decision of the UK Government to invest in Wylfa Newydd represents a striking reversal in government policy, which had ruled out direct investment in nuclear projects. As recently as 2010 the government had stated that there “must be no public underwriting of construction cost overruns on new nuclear power plants”.

Speaking to Parliament, Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark, said:

“I am pleased to confirm that today Hitachi and the UK Government have decided to enter into negotiations in relation to the proposed Wylfa Newydd project. This is an important step for the project, although no decision has been yet taken to proceed, and the successful conclusion of these negotiations will of course be subject to full Government, regulatory and other approvals, including but not limited to value for money, due diligence and State Aid requirements.”

“A key focus of discussions with Hitachi has been- and will continue to be- achieving lower cost electricity for consumers. Both the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee have recommended that the Government consider variations from the Hinkley Point C financing model in order to reduce costs to consumers. In line with the NAO and PAC’s clear findings and recommendations, for this project the Government will be considering direct investment alongside Hitachi, and the Japanese Government agencies and other parties. Our partnership on this project would serve as a further example of civil nuclear collaboration between the UK and Japan, building on the Memorandum of Co-operation that was signed in 2016 with that country.”

The Minister’s statement makes it clear that no firm decision has been made regarding direct investment by the government. But that the statement has been made at all, should be viewed as a positive sign for the UK nuclear industry.

So, what’s next for Wylfa Newydd? Should the investment take place, then analysts have predicted that Wylfa Newydd will begin producing power in 2020 with a total project cost of £16bn.

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What next for Wylfa Newydd? - Time to read 3 min
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