The UK government has formally agreed to support construction of the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant on Anglesey, Wales.
The news comes less than two months after a similar agreement for the Hinkley C plant in Somerset, and is seen as a strong indicator of the government’s commitment to a new generation of nuclear power as existing plants approach the end of their lives.
Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, signed the cooperation agreement with Hitachi and Horizon Nuclear Power on 4 December. It will help the developers raise external finance for the project by enabling access to a government guarantee, subject to final due diligence and ministerial approval.
It is likely to be at least 2018 before all the key licences, consents and permits are in place and a final investment decision can be made. Depending on the detailed construction timetable, the new plant is expected to go live “in the first half” of the 2020s.
Horizon plans to build two advanced boiling water reactor (ABWR) units at Wylfa with a combined capacity of 2.7GW. The reactors will be provided by the joint venture company Hitachi GE Nuclear Energy (HGNE).
At the same time as the Treasury agreement, Horizon announced strategic contracts for engineering and technical services with three major UK-based companies. AMEC, Atkins and Cavendish Nuclear, together with their supply chains, will work collaboratively with Horizon over the next three years on consultancy and technical design activities for Wylfa Newydd, as well as supporting the development of expertise within the company itself.
Horizon Nuclear Power was acquired by Hitachi in November 2012 from RWE and E.On. It has plans for a plant at Oldbury-on-Severn in Gloucestershire as well as the Wylfa project.