Leading industry bodies have welcomed the news that the UK is set to take a £5bn stake in Hitachi’s nuclear plant in Wales.
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Nuclear Industry Association have both come out in support of the government’s decision to open “commercial discussions” with the Japanese conglomerate over the Wylfa Newydd site in Anglesey.
Institution of Mechanical Engineers Engineering Policy Adviser Matt Rooney labelled the decision as “a major development” as the UK attempts to “bolster the long-term outlook for the nuclear manufacturing supply chain”.
“The Institution of Mechanical Engineers welcomes this step towards a firm decision on a new nuclear power station at the Wylfa Newydd site in Wales. Once built, it will provide large quantities of reliable low-carbon electricity, helping the UK meet its decarbonisation targets under the Climate Change Act,” he said.
“Both the construction of the plant, and its operation, would provide hundreds of high-skilled engineering jobs in North Wales for decades to come. It would also bolster the long-term outlook for the nuclear manufacturing supply chain in the UK.”
The government will be using public money to finance its share in the £20bn project after agreeing on a tripartite investment structure under which Hitachi, the UK government and state-backed Japanese entities would become equal investment partners.
Nuclear Industry Association chief executive Tom Greatrex said: “Today’s announcement, which reiterated UK government support for civil nuclear as a vital element of a future low carbon power supply and confirmed the Horizon Wylfa Newydd project as the next element of our new build programme, is good news towards meeting our decarbonisation targets.
“Nuclear power has made a massive contribution to the UK, providing reliable, secure and always available low carbon energy for sixty years. It remains the single largest source of low carbon electricity - providing more than 20% of the power the country generates for homes, businesses and public services.
“The industry particularly welcomes the news of government commitment to consider different funding models, including direct investment, for financing nuclear new build projects. This will reduce overall project costs and, in turn, the cost to consumers as we transition to a low carbon electricity system able to meet our future energy challenges.”
Earlier this month, Hitachi chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi met with prime minister Theresa May to ask for government funding for its proposed nuclear plant in Anglesey.
The firm has already spent £2bn on Horizon, which includes developing a nuclear power station at Wylfa. The 2.9 gigawatt power station is due to start generating electricity in the mid-2020s.
The developers behind Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant have put forward proposals to clear around 121ha at the Welsh site.
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