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Hitachi pulls out – halting two big UK nuclear projects. Renewables would be a fraction of their costs

Hitachi halts 5.8 GW of UK nuclear plans

With the Japanese conglomerate this week walking away from two new nuclear plants in the United Kingdom, project developer Horizon Nuclear Power has confirmed all activities at both sites will cease. The facilities had struggled to secure funding despite offers from government. Horizon said it will ‘keep lines of communication open’ regarding the future of the sites. PV Magazine,  SEPTEMBER 18, 2020 MARK HUTCHINS  The former Wylfa nuclear power station was decommissioned in 2015. Plans for a new reactor on an adjacent site have been abandoned with the withdrawal of Hitachi from the project.

Japanese conglomerate Hitachi has pulled out of the construction of two U.K. nuclear projects with a total 5.8 GW of generation capacity, citing ongoing delays and an increasingly tough investment environment due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The projects, on the Welsh Isle of Anglesey and at Oldbury on Severn, near the English city of Bristol, were taken on by Hitachi in 2012. Construction was suspended in January last year as funding could not be secured for the reactor at Wylfa Newydd, on Anglesey, and Hitachi’s U.K. subsidiary Horizon Nuclear Power has confirmed it will cease development at both sites, though it still hopes to revive the projects.

Hitachi said it would coordinate with government and other stakeholders as holder of the license to build nuclear reactors at the sites. The company posted losses last year from the suspended projects and said it does not expect the decision to further affect its finances……….

Renewables

Critics of nuclear power are likely to view the Hitachi decision as further evidence of the inherent cost and complexity problems associated with the technology, and will repeat arguments the U.K. and other regions would be better served by an energy transition focusing on renewables.

Mycle Schneider, lead author of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report told pv magazine: “Nuclear power plant projects frequently get abandoned even after construction has started. One in eight construction sites have been abandoned at various stages of advancement of construction. Some have been completed and never switched on, and there is absolutely no guarantee that Hinkley Point C will ever generate power,” said Schneider, in reference to a third planned nuclear plant in the southwest of England.

“It has become obvious that renewables, even unsubsidized, come in at a fraction of the cost of new nuclear power. In the U.K., onshore and offshore wind are less than half the cost of nuclear. If the U.K. government keeps planning for nuclear power plants, it’s not because there was no choice, and it has nothing to do with market-economy driven energy policy.”

Solar industry representatives also called on the government to recognize renewables’ potential to fill in gaps left by abandoned and delayed nuclear projects and to implement supportive policies, as well as an auctioning system to boost large-scale projects. “The UK is facing a significant low-carbon energy gap in the 2030s, resulting from the abandonment of new nuclear projects,” said Chris Hewett, Chief Executive of the Solar Trade Association. “Solar PV is well-positioned to help plug a significant portion of this, but the Government must step in to bring down the numerous barriers that are holding growth back, such as punitive business rates and a lack of prioritization of grid capacity for the technology.”  https://www.pv-magazine.com/2020/09/18/hitachi-halts-5-8-gw-of-uk-nuclear-plans/

September 19, 2020 - Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK

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