UK government ‘working on’ sites for nuclear plants amid reports of Wylfa talks | Energy industry

The UK government said it was working to provide sites for new nuclear power stations, in discussions with the owner of the Wylfa facility in north Wales.

Hitachi owns the site on the island of Anglesey or Ynys Môn, but its future has been uncertain since 2020, when the Japanese company officially abandoned its own efforts to build a new reactor there after failing to find financial backing with the government.

The government has started preliminary discussions with Hitachi to acquire the land, with the intention of finding a partner to develop a nuclear power plant there.

The government has in recent years committed to expanding nuclear power generation and launched Great British Nuclear, despite significant delays and huge cost overruns on existing projects at Hinkley Point C in Somerset and Sizewell in Suffolk.

The government in January outlined plans for what it described as the biggest expansion of nuclear power in Britain for 70 years, building reactors capable of producing 24 gigawatts of electricity by 2050. This would meet a quarter of the UK's energy demand while producing zero carbon emissions.

These plans will depend on the progress of nuclear projects on the few sites deemed suitable for the installation of new reactors.

The Wylfa site has been valued at £200 million, according to the Financial Times, which was first to report the negotiations between Hitachi and GB Nuclear.

Wylfa is home to the last of the UK's Magnox nuclear reactors, closed in 2015, meaning it is considered a suitable site for a large reactor or small modular reactor (SMR). The government hopes SMRs will make building nuclear power plants easier and cheaper.

Companies and institutions in Britain's nuclear industry announced on Monday they were launching a recruitment drive to ensure there are enough workers to support the government's efforts.

The campaign, Destination Nuclear, said the number of employees needed to double over the next 20 years to enable a possible quadrupling of production.

According to the Nuclear Industry Association, a lobby group, there are around 64,500 workers in the UK's civilian nuclear supply chain, as well as thousands more in the defense sector.

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It has the support of French state-owned energy company EDF, engineers such as Atkins, Jacobs and Laing O'Rourke, as well as companies involved in Britain's nuclear weapons and submarine programs, including Babcock, Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems.

A spokesperson for the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero said: “We have ended the stop-start approach to nuclear and recently launched a roadmap setting out the biggest expansion of the sector in 70 years, simplifying regulations and shortening the process of building new ones. power plants – which means cleaner, cheaper and more secure energy in the long term.

“Wylfa is one of several potential sites that could host civil nuclear projects. Although no decisions on sites have yet been made, we are working with Great British Nuclear to facilitate access to potential sites for new nuclear projects.

A Hitachi spokesperson said: “We own two of the UK's leading nuclear new build sites and will continue to discuss the future of these sites with interested parties. »

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