Britain’s hopes for a number of new nuclear power stations could collapse if the government and the Japanese conglomerate Hitachi fail to make a breakthrough on talks for a plant in Wales, a top nuclear lobbyist has warned. Hiroaki Nakanishi, the firm’s chairman, met Theresa May earlier this month, to press the prime minister for financial support for two reactors at Wylfa on the island of Anglesey. The company’s board is understood be meeting on Monday to decide whether it can proceed with the UK’s subsequent offer, believed to include a multibillion-pound loan. Tim Yeo, chairman of the industry-backed group New Nuclear Watch Europe, said the outcome of the negotiations had huge consequences for other international firms hoping to build reactors in Britain. “If Hitachi walk away from Wylfa that probably spells the end of new nuclear in the UK,” he said. Hitachi wants to build abroad because of a moribund home market, while the UK government sees nuclear as an important source of low-carbon power. Despite the protracted discussions between the two parties, London appears to still be committed to making the economics of nuclear work. “I sense there’s still a lot of political will to make new nuclear happen from government, and backbenchers seem to want it in their areas,” a Whitehall source said. An industry source said the deal would work if the government offered some form of financial support directly, while energy bill payers footed the rest through a subsidy known as a contract for difference. Paul Dorfman at the Energy Institute at University College London said: “This would mean the hardworking UK taxpayer and energy consumer, who are labouring under ramping austerity, are being asked to stump up for an extraordinarily expensive nuclear plant just at the time that renewable costs are plummeting.” Japanese media have reported the UK government’s loan for the project could be as much as £13bn, and put the total cost of the plant at more than £20bn, even more than Hinkley Point C. The details are understood to have been leaked by the Japanese government, not Hitachi, and the UK government has said it “does not recognise” the reports. Greenpeace said the UK was wrongly pursuing a “dinosaur” technology and should focus on renewables, batteries and interconnectors to other countries.
Guardian 25th May 2018 read more »