Business and energy secretary Greg Clark has this morning confirmed that the UK Government is to enter a period of negotiations with Hitachi over Wylfa Newydd, the proposed £20bn nuclear power plant on Anglesey.
An extraordinary board meeting at Hitachi last week saw senior figures at the Japanese industrial giant resolve to complete a deal for Wylfa, a project being carried out by its wholly-owned subsidiary Horizon Nuclear Power. Horizon submitted its application for development consent t Wylfa, a twin-reactor 2.9GW proposal, last Friday.
Clark has not only committed the UK to these talks, but also offered reassurance for further new nuclear schemes including the NuGen project at Moorside, Cumbria. He also suggested the UK Government would consider directly investing in new nuclear, in the short term at least, having been in the eyes of some observers been backed into a corner by EDF at Hinkley Point.
He said: “This is an important next 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.”
A Memorandum of Co-operation was signed between the UK and Japan in 2016 in the area of civil nuclear power.
Clark continued: “It remains the Government’s objective in the longer term that new nuclear projects like other energy infrastructure should be financed by the private sector, and so alongside our discussions with developers we will be reviewing the viability of a regulated asset base model as a sustainable funding model based on private finance for future projects beyond Wylfa, which could deliver the Government’s objectives in terms of value for money, fiscal responsibility and decarbonisation.”