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Hitachi scraps £16bn nuclear power station in Wales

January 17, 2019

By Paul Homewood



I revealed last month that Hitachi’s plans for a new nuclear plant in Wales were on the rocks.

Now we have confirmation that the plug has been pulled:



Hitachi has scrapped plans to build a nuclear power station in Wales, becoming the second firm in two months to abandon a major nuclear project.

The £16bn Wylfa plant on Anglesey was meant to be the next in a line of new nuclear plants behind Hinkley Point C but the Japanese conglomerate has been unable to agree a deal with the UK government.

With costs mounting and nearly £2bn spent on the project, a Hitachi board meeting pulled the plug on Thursday. The decision is a serious blow to the government’s energy strategy and hopes of attracting major investments post-Brexit.

Unions expressed dismay over the cancellation, which will involve around 300 job losses at Hitachi’s UK subsidiary, Horizon, and mean thousands of construction jobs do not materialise.

The death knell for Wylfa also spells doom for hopes of a second Hitachi plant at Oldbury in Gloucestershire.

Duncan Hawthorne, CEO of Hitachi’s UK subsidiary, Horizon Nuclear Power, said that the company had been unable to reach a deal in talks with London and Tokyo.

“I am very sorry to say that despite the best efforts of everyone involved we’ve not been able to reach an agreement to the satisfaction of all concerned.

“As a result we will be suspending the development of the Wylfa Newydd project, as well as work related to Oldbury, until a solution can be found. In the meantime we will take steps to reduce our presence but keep the option to resume development in future.”

The collapse of the power stations and the Moorside project that Toshiba scrapped in November means the government has a huge hole to fill in the late 2020s and early 2030s.

Together the three power stations would have supplied 15% of electricity demand.

Questions will be raised over whether ministers should redouble their efforts to make the numbers work for nuclear, or pivot to a new strategy that hugely expands the build-out of renewables.£16bn-nuclear-power-station-in-wales/ar-BBSmxhe?ocid=spartandhp


Along with Toshiba’s withdrawal from the UK nuclear market, and ongoing problems with EDF, the UK is now paying the price for pulling out of the business.

The £3bn windfall received when Gordon Brown sold Westinghouse in 2006 seems tiny now, compared to the problems we now face.

As for the Guardian’s suggestion that we pivot to a new strategy that hugely expands the build-out of renewables, would somebody please tell them the difference between dispatchable baseload power, and intermittent wind farms!

  1. Adrian permalink
    January 17, 2019 11:42 am

    Might be important if it mattered.

    It can’t do as I heard a very clever BBC correspondent on Radio 4 asking why we needed to bother building them now when we’ve got lots of renewables.

    Have a nice day, because tomorrow will be dark and cold.

  2. tim leeney permalink
    January 17, 2019 11:48 am

    That wasn’t a windfall, it was the family silver, sold cheaply along with most of our gold.

    Incidentally, Hitachi seem to have suspended, rather than total scrapped, their involvement.

  3. TinyCO2 permalink
    January 17, 2019 12:06 pm

    If the people running the Grid aren’t persuaded we need some new reliable power then why would we expect idiot MPs to make sensible decisions?

    MPs of all colours still love PFI because they don’t have to stump cash up front (even when they do because they often dish out sweeteners for nothing). Let the big bills be somebody else’s headache. They’ve no concept of running out of power but new power generation is on the to do list, so they ok some more renewables and feel they’ve done their job. They’re convinced that the energy companies are lying to them about stopping generating due to a lack of present profit, never mind future profits. They won’t believe it until the blackouts start.

    I suspect the threat of an anti nuke Labour government, coupled with Tories who are becoming just as capricious on green fantasies, will probably end any hope of new nuclear. Even new gas station plans will want guaranteed payments, regardless of future government plans on CO2. We have an entire political class who can no longer make decisions on anything but trivia.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      January 17, 2019 1:50 pm

      ‘They won’t believe it until the blackouts start.’ Never was a truer word spoken. That seems to be the only way our stupid MPs will learn. They can’t connect the lack of the provision of new reliable generation and the impossibility of their utopian dreams of no domestic gas use and battery powered cars and vehicles. Mention the ‘cobalt cliff’ and their eyes will glaze over until somebody with ‘prestige’ sits before them and tells them about it. By refusing to use written research material – despite being given taxpayer case to fund researchers – they will remain ignorant by not knowing who to invite to talk to them.

      The Trafford Park gas powerstation given permission in 2016 is on hold due to concerns about the economics of building it. If it won’t make any money, the private company won’t build it.

      ‘We have an entire political class who can no longer make decisions on anything but trivia.’ On the button again! Ever wondered why the majority of the political class want to remain in the EU? Saves them from the difficult stuff.

      • A C Osborn permalink
        January 17, 2019 2:10 pm

        “Ever wondered why the majority of the political class want to remain in the EU? Saves them from the difficult stuff.”

        Never a truer word said.

    • keith permalink
      January 17, 2019 5:06 pm

      What makes you think they can make decisions on trivia. My impression of our Governments and totally incompetent civil servants is that if they make any decisions the results turn into a total f*** up.

  4. January 17, 2019 12:08 pm

    Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  5. January 17, 2019 12:11 pm

    1970’s technology 100% of all components imported to be assembled in the UK, the fuel needs to be replaced after 5% has decayed, PWR are unsafe to shut down, half the plants costs fuel, we will be importing from japan and must buy Hitachi fuel since each fuel type is specific to a reactor model,.in < 25 years we will have to pay half as much again to Hitachi for a new tank 😟. All when we have 200,000 tonnes of uranium and plutonium in sellafield. This is why Liquid fuel reactors are much better since you get to burn 100% and you get to make the fuel and we no longer need a cathedral sized containment vessel.

    • AZ1971 permalink
      January 17, 2019 6:23 pm

      Bingo. Molten salt reactors (MSR’s) are the way to go as a bridge towards fusion power while also allowing a reduction in greenhouse gases. Why the Greens don’t fully embrace the new technology is beyond me.

      • Stuart Brown permalink
        January 17, 2019 7:06 pm

        Please point me to one working today and connected to a grid somewhere, I’d be genuinely interested.

      • January 20, 2019 4:35 pm

        This is actually one for Stewart, the business model for building nuclear ended in Europe and America some 30 years ago which is why only Japan Steel makes the containment vessels, you would think that would be Westinghouse but no, the Business model they came up with to make a profit was in refueling.

        The other big business model is in aquisition especially hostile takeovers such as Alstoms in France where in 2015 with agency support and US government assistance management was accused of corruption and imprisoned without trial in the US, Wall St shorted the stock and then Hollande allowed 51% of the company be sold off without parliamentary approval to General Electric which has a long record of buying companies in trouble in the US court system, only they were never the majority generator of power, or owned by a Government ranked the worlds the largest economy. This is the bit where you get the surrender monkeys moniker bar a member of parliament forced a review of the firesale.

        Point being, nobody here or across the Atlantic is in the business of making them anymore, Russia does and China is building 2 for $3.3 billion and Russia has the BN-800. China and Russia are investing, we no longer have a nuclear industry – you dont build reactors for a long time and that is what happens.

  6. January 17, 2019 12:45 pm

    It is impossible to get the Grauniad and the Greenblob to understand the difference between dispatchable baseload power, and intermittent wind farms. They don’t do science or engineering.

    • Dodgy Geezer permalink
      January 17, 2019 4:23 pm

      “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” Upton Sinclair

  7. HotScot permalink
    January 17, 2019 1:07 pm

    When I build my retirement house over the next few years I’ll be including provision for a diesel generator. Hopefully it’ll be a complete waste of money.

    • Mack permalink
      January 17, 2019 1:35 pm

      ‘Diesel generator’? Good luck with that! Following Michael Gove’s latest epistle from the ‘Green’ side I fully expect diesel generators to join logs and household coal on the government’s new naughty list, possession of which will earn you a visit from the newly formed climate Stasi and a trip to the clink. Oh the joys of watching modern civilisation regress at a decade a time heh?

      • Dave Ward permalink
        January 17, 2019 2:47 pm

        “I fully expect diesel generators to join logs and household coal on the government’s new naughty list”

        I’m thinking much the same, but you could always remind Michael Gove about STOR. What’s good enough for them should be good enough for the rest of us…

  8. Charles Wardrop, permalink
    January 17, 2019 1:13 pm

    The wrong people are directing our body politic and year-to-year business affairs strategy, following the example of anti-Midas touch Blair, Brown, Cameron and May.
    Please step forward, John Redwood and Daniel Hannan, along with well-chosen advisers, to get the poor UK back on track, since we are now heading for the pits.

    • pitsgate permalink
      January 17, 2019 2:03 pm

      Pity we aren’t heading for the pits, Charles. We are still sitting on top of upwards of 300 years of coal. In the case of Drax, literally “on top of”!

      • Charles Wardrop permalink
        January 18, 2019 10:01 am

        Thanks,not to be forgotten.
        ? how extract, new, safer ways needed, and do exist, not to be discounted.

  9. Geo Joe permalink
    January 17, 2019 1:46 pm

    Paul, the BBC (Radio 4, 1 O’Clock news) has just claimed that Govt did not intervene to save this project because of the dramatic fall in the cost of offshore wind! If I heard correctly, their Business Editor stated, without qualifications, that offshore wind now costs £57 per MwH. Surely this is nonsense

    • January 17, 2019 1:51 pm

      One new project that will come on line in about 5 years time has offered this price, but there is no guarantee it will even be built.

      Meanwhile all other existing and planned projects will be costing much more

    • A C Osborn permalink
      January 17, 2019 2:24 pm

      The other question is what do they mean by “offshore wind now costs £57 per MwH”
      Do they mean
      1. That is the cost to the end Customer, without any kind of subsidy?
      2. That is the cost to the end Customer, plus any subsidy?
      3. That is the cost to build the Wind Farm based on Plated Output?
      4. That is the cost to build the Wind Farm based on expected Output and on current output values?

      Because as we know they always quote the least expensive version they can get away with without qualification.
      ps He is actually saying that as I type.

    • mwhitre permalink
      January 17, 2019 6:19 pm

      Listening to the BBC news on the way home today, Radio 4 I think

      Toshiba only able to charge 7.5 pence per KW hour this is not enough. Reporter stated that renewables were now cheaper. (sure that was the jist of it)

      Guess we will have to endure the blackouts, and the fix(more windmills)

      Who knows perhaps we will have our yellow vest moment. Scare the crap out of the idiots in Westminster

      • Jack Broughton permalink
        January 17, 2019 7:21 pm

        Yellow vest washed and ready to go.

  10. George Lawson permalink
    January 17, 2019 1:57 pm

    “I am very sorry to say that despite the best efforts of everyone involved we’ve not been able to reach an agreement to the satisfaction of all concerned.

    This is serious.We need to know very quickly what it was that the two parties were unable to reach agreement on. If it comes down to the incompetence of our negotiators in the Civil Service and in government, then we should be told, and the individuals concerned in the negotiations should be named and questioned as to how this sad state of affairs materialised. I do sincerely hope that environmental issues were not the cause of the breakdown.

  11. Dodgy Geezer permalink
    January 17, 2019 2:14 pm

    Does anyone know WHY the deal collapsed? Or is this a secret?

    • Derek Buxton permalink
      January 17, 2019 2:35 pm

      Well whoever scrapped it should be fired with no payout. We need the power now not in 100 years time. If those responsible are not up to the job, then get someone who is!

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        January 17, 2019 3:02 pm

        Not profitable enough to secure the third party investment required at a price the electricity bill payer could stomach I should imagine.

        Of course BBC radio mentions reasons but always ends up back at ‘because Brexit’.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      January 17, 2019 3:01 pm

      R4 this morning said it was down to too much capital cost up front and too long a period of ROI. Said they needed government support (another reason for leaving the EU).

  12. Harry Passfield permalink
    January 17, 2019 2:59 pm

    There was an idiot on Jeremy Vine’s show (OK, there was another idiot on…) who claimed that now that wind was so cheap we wouldn’t need nuclear and gas would fall foul of our carbon commitment. He (and Vine) have not thought about base-load – they probably only think in terms of domestic supply. I pray a power cut takes out Radio 2 (no! the BBC!!).

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      January 17, 2019 3:09 pm

      My memory maybe dodgy. Perhaps I heard it on R4 WATO – which is more my habit, rather than Vine. That said, Vine is still an idiot and the person interviewed beclowned himself.

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      January 17, 2019 7:29 pm

      Another oaf on You and Yours (BBC 12:20 hrs) an “expert / scientist” merrily stated that the global warming was reducing oxygen dissolved in the oceans, (an anticipated effect of Henry’s Law); than a few minutes later said that the oceans are acidifying as they are dissolving more CO2 (Henrys Law cannot apply to CO2, as it explains the increasing CO2 in the atmosphere far better than man-made CO2). Apparently ocean warming is part of AGW (no idea how), but the oceans don’t obey the laws of nature regarding CO2 solubility.

      My radio is proving very strong, almost indestructible.

  13. January 17, 2019 4:40 pm

    Maybe they’re now betting on gas from fracking. Nuclear is a massive up-front expense, but gas power stations by comparison are cheap.

    • Paul H permalink
      January 18, 2019 4:11 pm

      Fracking is GB’s ‘out of jail’ card. We’re broke, and require huge amounts of LNG or LPG to fuel the thirty five percent of our energy production. Currently our major supplier is Qatar who the Saudis seem bent on destroying. We obviously use up a heck of an amount of foreign exchange buying the stuff. The luddites protesting down the road from me near Blackpool have delayed bringing the gas online for over five years. This has cost every man woman and child hard cash due to the government’s loss of royalties which would go towards lower taxation, bigger benefits, more infrastructure spending to include the NHS. The so called earth tremors are only known about because Cuadrilla announce them as detected by their systems, otherwise no one on the surface would be any the wiser. I dislike the use of the word ‘wise’ when referring to anti frackers. If we are talking energy security, UK fracked gas is the way to go for many decades.

  14. Athelstan permalink
    January 17, 2019 5:21 pm


    Germany can retrofit its LIGNITE burning combustion electricity generation plants, if Japan is dashing for coal, what is stopping us? Good grief, we have the technology, it is cheap, available, efficient base load and could be done in a (relatively speaking) jiffy.

    It is too logical for the wimin.

    But this is what you get when, they get their boots under the table; are put in charge, mumbo jumbo, idiot statistics, mantra chanting and Gaia over, common sense.

    Small wonder it is then that, Britain is in such miserable decline, what do they think is going to happen and they really all need to have a visit to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh to see the into Britain’s future where electrical current – will have lecky maybe 2 hours /day, if you’re lucky and can afford to pay for it.
    And the other thing, we can’t all work in comfy offices pushing paper around and presenting powerpoints on the ‘green road to financial Armageddon’. For alas the truth is harsh, somebody has to generate INCOME – oh did I say comfy like erm warm airconditioned comfy offices and that’s just it isn’t it – they think we can survive on being virtuous, clean livin’, totally devoted to the momma gaia and living on fresh air.

    BUT The world ain’t like that, is it?

    Else, they require it and deem it that, we all regress to, metaphorically and literally drift back into the dark ages.

  15. Bloke down the pub permalink
    January 17, 2019 5:56 pm

    Paul, you may find this of interest.

  16. January 18, 2019 2:19 am

    The Guardians comments as usual for a bunch of w*nkers.

  17. Ian Wilson permalink
    January 18, 2019 8:24 am

    Small Modular Reactors look a better bet than the monoliths – perhaps it’s being simplistic but isn’t it lifting proven technology from submarines?
    Rolls-Royce have seemingly sensible proposals on their website, maybe too sensible for our politicians. Or are they too scared of the Green Blob?

    • January 20, 2019 4:39 pm

      Also small is the only type we can now build, and even then it will be with imported steel. Tata and EU environmental taxes saw to that, nothing like a bit of globalisation and free but not fair trade with dumping in the home market.

  18. Rowland P permalink
    January 18, 2019 10:05 am

    Totally agree re SMRs. Usual problems.however, will be encountered in planning delays and ignorant protesters. Why aren’t our new aircraft carriers nuclear powered? Another stupid decision.

  19. Rowland P permalink
    January 18, 2019 10:13 am

    SMRs can also be dispersed across the country thus reducing transmission losses.

  20. DAVID C TAYLOR permalink
    January 18, 2019 1:41 pm

    I listened to ED Davey MP (knighted for services to climate change) being interviewed on Radio 5 Live Drivetime last night. here’s the link -

    – you can find his interview at the 2hr 13 minute point. It is well worth listening to as he extols the reputed financial benefits of renewables and why these should replace the nuclear power station in Anglesey. He claimed that “….renewable costs per unit have reduced from £140 per unit to £60 per unit which when compared to nuclear at £92 per unit is excellent VFM….’. He didnt mention gas or indeed the cost of imported wood.

    Ed’s personal modesty knows no bounds so it was surprise to hear him state with supreme self-satisfaction this reduction resulted from his ‘….Liberal party policy during his time as SoS for DECC in the Coalition Government …..”.

    All of his claims went unchallenged by the BBC interviewer although he did ask a question as to whether renewables could do the job without back-up from nuclear, gas etc. You won’t be surprised to hear Davy’s blathering response.

    Once again the BBC has failed to provide expert or at least informed balance to a primetime interview. Why was Davy allowed to comment unchallenged about the costs of renewables and the inability of renewables to address DBP – as mentioned by Paul?

    The BBC must be forced to introduce alternative expert views to each interview rather than just having a single source.

  21. bluecat57 permalink
    January 18, 2019 10:17 pm

    As long as they don’t scrap their massage wand. My female co-workers really love them for some reason.

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