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What is Wylfa Newydd? Hitachi’s planned nuclear power station in the UK

Japanese conglomerate Hitachi is planning to build the £20bn Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station in Anglesey, Wales, by the mid-2020s - adding to the growing list of nuclear facilities in the UK that also includes Hinkley Point C, Sizewell C and Moorside

By the mid-2020s, the UK is expected to play host to the £20bn Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station.

Japanese conglomerate Hitachi is leading development on the facility, which is planned to be located in Anglesey, Wales, via its British energy subsidiary Horizon Nuclear Power.

Its proposal comprises two reactors and 2,700 megawatts (MW) of power - enough for five million homes.

Construction is due to start in 2020, with the project tipped to generate 9,000 jobs during the development process and 850 permanent jobs once its 60-year operation life cycle begins.

But speculation has mounted that the project might not get the go-ahead.

It isn’t the only UK nuclear plant in the works, with progress on the Somerset-based Hinkley Point C and Suffolk-based Sizewell C facilities looking promising.

And while the £15bn Moorside nuclear plant in Cumbria has also been in the pipeline, its future looks uncertain after Japanese manufacturer Toshiba pulled the plug once it was unable to find a buyer.

what is wylfa newydd
The UK’s list of planned nuclear plants includes Hinkley Point C, Sizewell C, Moorside and Wylfa Newydd

What is Wylfa Newydd? The story so far

Wylfa Newydd means “new Wylfa” in Welsh - an apt name considering it will be built adjacent to the old Wylfa nuclear plant, which closed down in 2015 after 44 years of operation.

Hitachi submitted an initial design proposal for the reactor in January 2014 for review by the UK’s Environment Agency and the Office for Nuclear Regulation.

By September that year, public consultations on the project had begun and continued through to 2016, with approval for the facility granted by the Planning Inspectorate in June this year.

Despite policy historically being opposed to direct investment in nuclear power projects, the UK government intends to provide £5m for Wylfa Newydd.

US engineering firm Bechtel was appointed to manage construction of the plant in August this year.

It has been involved in more than 150 nuclear power plant projects and under this contract the company will have almost 200 employees embedded within Hitachi subsidiary Horizon Nuclear Power.

Horizon Nuclear Power CEO Duncan Hawthorne added: “This world-leading company brings a wealth of nuclear, engineering and construction expertise to complement our growing organisation and will help us.

“Our first power station will be cheaper than what has gone before and after that, with smart financing, supply chain learnings and no need for first time overheads, future project costs will fall further still.”

 

Doubt cast on future of Wylfa Newydd

This week, Japanese television station TV Asahi reported there were concerns over the project’s feasibility after an apparent rise in construction costs, although Hitachi condemned this information as “rumours and speculation”.

Hitachi sources told the BBC: “This is one of the aspects of the project development phase that must be concluded before construction of Wylfa Newydd can go ahead, but the discussions are commercially confidential.”