Tuesday 10 November 2020 2:57 pm

US consortium mulls taking on abandoned Wylfa nuclear project

A group of US companies has reportedly approached the government about taking over the development of a nuclear power plant at Wylfa in north Wales.

Engineering giant Bechtel will lead the consortium, and will be joined by utility firm Southern and nuclear engineers Westinghouse.

Read more: Hitachi withdraws from Wylfa nuclear power plant

The FT reported that talks over taking over the project began in September after Japanese firm Hitachi pulled out of the project.

The firm said that the worsening investment environment as a result of coronavirus was behind the decision to pull out.

The decision to pull the plug on the £15-£20bn nuclear plant was met with dismay by UK industry, which is currently awaiting an update on its future from ministers.

The approach comes with Boris Johnson set to lay out a “10 point plan” explaining how the country will meet its 2050 climate commitments. 

Nuclear power is widely expected to play a substantial role in achieving the transition to a net zero, but projects around the Uk have ground to a halt in recent years.

At the moment, there are only three other new nuclear projects being looked at, and of these only Hinkley Point C in Somerset is under construction.

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EDF, which is developing the Hinkley Point plant, is also planning to develop another identical project at Sizewell in Suffolk.

Finally, Chinese firm CGN is meant to build a plant using its own reactors at Bradwell in Essex, but a clampdown on foreign investment into the UK could throw this into doubt.

According to the report, Bechtel has positioned the Wylfa proposal to fit in with the government’s levelling up agenda.

It added that consortium could deliver power to the electricity grid on both a similar timescale to that proposed by Horizon Nuclear Power, the Hitachi subsidiary previously running the Wylfa project, and at a “market competitive price” per megawatt hour despite switching to different reactor technology. 

The approach reportedly has the backing of President Donald Trump’s administration.

Read more: Serco shares crash as outsourcer loses role on nuclear weapons consortium

A spokesperson for Bechtel said: “Wylfa is considered by many as the best site in the UK for large nuclear newbuild – helping the UK reach net zero; supporting the Government’s leveling up agenda; and turbocharging the UK’s domestic nuclear supply chain capability, setting it on a path to deliver and export future clean energy solutions.

“Bechtel has been involved in the Wylfa project from the start, and we remain committed to working with our partners in the UK and abroad to deliver the best clean energy solutions to power millions of homes.”