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Japan’s Hitachi eyes relaunch of UK nuclear plant

Japan’s Hitachi said Monday it was ready to relaunch a nuclear power project in Wales that was put on hold early last year because of wrangling over financing.

The company’s Horizon Nuclear subsidiary said it was “continuing to engage with the UK government, and others, on securing the right conditions to support a potential restart for Wylfa Newydd” on Anglesey island off northwest Wales.

“It is too important an opportunity not to deliver, given the benefits it will bring both locally and nationally, and we remain committed to doing all we can to move this transformational project forward,” a spokesman said.

Hitachi froze the planned construction of two reactors at the site in January 2019, saying the project was not commercially viable.

The targeted production capacity was nearly three gigawatts or some six percent of Britain’s electricity needs.

Contacts with the UK government have intensified recently after a hiatus caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Hitachi is awaiting the publication of the government’s latest energy strategy in the coming months, which could include new financing models for the nuclear industry.

The company is expected to make a final decision after that.

The Japanese firm’s reassertion of interest comes as ties between London and Beijing are strained over the involvement of Chinese telecoms provider Huawei in Britain’s 5G network.

Lawmakers are now asking questions about China’s China General Nuclear  Power (CGN)in several projects, including the development with France’s EDF of two new reactors at Hinkley Point.

Hinkley Point, in Somerset, western England, is currently the only nuclear project under construction.

Britain’s nuclear power plants built in the last century have either closed or are coming to the end of their lifespan.

The government wants to maintain the 20 percent of electricity it gets from the nuclear sector, particularly with its aim of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

(AFP)

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