Wylfa decision 'will damage UK nuclear manufacturing supply chain'
17 Jan 2019
Process leaders have reacted with dismay to Hitachi’s announcement that it will halt construction of the £20 billion Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant in Anglesey, Wales.
The Japanese company said its Horizon subsdiary would suspend work on Wylfa as well as the Oldbury, Gloucestershire nuclear site, blaming the rising cost of construction.
Head of engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE)Jenifer Baxter described the announcement as sad news for North Wales and the UK energy industry.
“This decision to pause development of one of our major nuclear energy sites combined with the decision to leave Euratom as part of Brexit will damage the long-term outlook for the nuclear manufacturing supply chain in the UK," she remarked.
"When built, it would have provided around 6% of UK electricity demand, all reliable low-carbon electricity, helping the UK meet its decarbonisation targets under the Climate Change Act. The reduction in nuclear power in the UK is a loss to our ability to decarbonise rapidly.”
Craig Hatch, managing director, surveying & asset management at global consultancy firm WYG, said nuclear projects were critical for ensuring a safe UK energy supply. He pointed out that the decision followed that of another Japanese firm, Toshiba, to withdraw from the Moorside project in Cumbria.
“If the UK loses out on Wylfa and Moorside the impact will be detrimental, not only to the respective local economies, but also to the UK’s industrial strategy that relies on secure and affordable domestic energy supplies,” said Hatch.
With 9,000 jobs including apprenticeships expected to be created on back of the Wylfa reactors project, the impact of this and the other projects is likely to seriously affect the local economies in affected areas said Baxter.
At present, the UK has eight functioning nuclear sites producing power, with licenses provided for another six including Wylfa and Oldbury. However, seven of the presently functioning sites are due to cease operation before 2030.
Commented Hatch: “Naturally, Brexit has commanded much of the government’s attention as of late and whilst a sentiment of support for nuclear new builds has been expressed, there is currently no cohesive plan within the current UK energy policy.”