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Wylfa boss urges nuclear industry to 'fight' for its future

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The boss of the suspended Wylfa nuclear power plant has urged the industry to step up and “fight” for its future.  

Horizon Nuclear Power chief executive Duncan Hawthorne said that unless the industry puts up a collective “fight”, then there is “no hope of restarting” work at the suspended Wylfa Newydd project on Anglesey.  

“We need to fight right now,” he said at the Nuclear New Build Conference. “The battle ground [for new nuclear] is right now, and if we don’t there is no hope of the Wylfa project restarting. 

“We [Wylfa Newydd] cannot be the unwanted child of the nuclear sector. We have to step up our game.”  

Work on the £16bn Wylfa project was suspended in January after Hitachi, the parent company of Horizon Nuclear Power, pulled funding over cost concerns and lack of investors.  

Horizon is still hoping to restart work at the site on the island of Anglesey in North Wales, with the government looking at a new funding model for the project, called the regulated asset base (RAB) model.

The RAB model was first developed in the 1990s for use in water projects regulated by Ofwat. Funding is released based on predictions of costs and profits across the lifetime of an asesst, allowing investors to earn a carefully calculated set return across the life of an entire project, even before it is operational. 

This type of financing is already being used to construct the Thames Tideway super sewer and was used on Heathrow Terminal 5.

However, Hawthorne added the proposed RAB funding model night not be enough to restart the project. 

“I don’t think the RAB model will do it, there is a lot of things that the RAB model doesn’t do that are important to investors. Governments build nuclear power stations, […] but I am not criticising them, they are limited by state-aid rules.”  

Hawthorne also refused to confirm whether Hitachi was considering selling Horizon Nuclear Power but said “everything is for sale.”  

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