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UK clean energy plans scuppered as Hitachi pulls plug on £20bn Wales power plant

Suban Abdulla
·3 min read
ANGLESEY, WALES - JUNE 16:  Wylfa Nuclear Power Station at Cemaes Bay, Anglesey, North Wales. The power station will be decommissioned in December 2015 after beginning operation in 1971. It is currently the only operating nuclear power station in Wales. A second plant named Wylfa Newydd has been proposed.  (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
Developers said the station would create up to 9,000 jobs during the construction phase and have a 60-year operational life. Photo: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

A project to build a nuclear power plant in Wales could be wound down by the end of March, jeopardising hopes of a revival through a sale.

Japanese firm Hitachi (HTHIY), which was to build a £20bn ($27bn) nuclear power station at Wylfa on Anglesey, has told staff it will shut its Horizon subsidiary by 31 March, the Times reported.

The move could scupper a sale of the site, which has attracted interest from bidders including a US consortium of Bechtel, Southern Company and Westinghouse, and dent UK’s clean energy goals.

Horizon declined to comment on a “timeline, commercial or personnel matters,” but told Yahoo Finance:

“Wylfa Newydd remains the best site for nuclear new build in the UK. We are continuing to explore options to ensure development can be taken forward and to deliver the substantial local and national benefits the project will bring.”

In September, the Tokyo-based firm announced that it would withdraw from the biggest energy project ever proposed in Wales, over funding issues.

Anglesey council said it had received a letter from Hitachi confirming its decision. Responding to the news at the time, council leader Llinos Medi said: "This is very disappointing, particularly at such a difficult time economically."

The Welsh Affairs Committee called the Wylfa nuclear power project withdrawal is "a blow for Wales and the UK's ambition to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050."

We have no comment regarding the timeline, commercial or personnel matters.

Developers said the station would create up to 9,000 jobs during the construction phase and have a 60-year operational life.

Yahoo Finance has reached out to Hitachi for comment.

READ MORE: HSBC net-zero promises brought into question by shareholders

Last month, Horizon boss Duncan Hawthorne to planning officers to say “discussions with multiple parties have been positive and encouraging with regards to finding a way forward in Hitachi’s absence”. Boris Johnson has committed to backing “at least one large-scale nuclear project” in an energy white paper.

In December, during the United Nations Climate summit, the UK submitted a new national climate plan — or nationally determined contribution (NDC) — which confirms its pledge to cut greenhouse gas pollution by at least 68% by 2030 from 1990 levels.

It was the first time Britain put forward its own proposal under the global Paris Agreement, as it previously came under the European Union’s plans.

Boris Johnson told the UN climate body that the UK will end foreign funding for oil and gas projects it announced on Saturday as it works to become a global leader on climate change.

The new environmental policy will still allow for new oil and gas deals to be approved during a “consultation period” due to end on 8 February. There will also be “very limited exceptions for gas-fired power plants and other projects” as part of the new plan.

WATCH: UN report highlights gap between countries' climate promises