Calls for renewables as Hitachi nuclear plant scrapped

Calls for the government to invest in renewable energy have increased in fervour after the Japanese firm Hitachi announced it was scrapping plans for a £16-billion nuclear power plant at Wylfa in Anglesey in north Wales, citing mounting costs for its decision.

Wylfa nuclear station
Wylfa nuclear station

Reading Tom

The current power station at Wylfa.

Green World

Japanese firm Hitachi has announced today (17 January) that it is scrapping plans for a £16-billion nuclear power station in Wales.

Following negotiations with the UK Government, the board of Hitachi withdrew funding for the Wylfa nuclear plant in Anglesey, north Wales, due to mounting costs. The company has revealed that it is set to make a loss of £2.14 billion due to the termination of the project.

The axing of the project makes it the latest nuclear power station plan to be shelved, with Toshiba pulling out of a deal to build a plant in Cumbria, while Hitachi is also scrapping plans for a plant in Oldbury in Gloucestershire.

The cancellation of the Wylfa project is set to cost 300 jobs at Hitachi UK subsidiary, Horizon Nuclear Power, and in the supply chain, while also blowing a blow in the UK’s energy plans, in which nuclear played a significant role.

In light of the collapse of the plans for the plant at Wylfa, renewed calls have been made for the UK Government to pivot its energy strategy away from nuclear energy and towards renewables, the price for which has been falling while that of nuclear has been increasing in recent years.

Commenting on the scrapped deal, Green Party Deputy Leader Amelia Womack said: “Today’s news underlines nuclear power as obsolete in the twenty-first century. There are now many different forms of renewable energy generation that are cleaner, cheaper, more efficient and don’t come with the potentially devastating environmental downsides.

“It’s now time for the Westminster Government to invest in tidal lagoon power at Swansea Bay and other projects that will deliver Wales’ clean energy future.”

Green MEP Molly Scott Cato highlighted the economic costs of nuclear energy versus the falling price of renewables, adding: “This pause in the construction of the Wylfa nuclear reactor needs to be permanent. It needs to be completely abandoned and the ripple effects need to extend all the way through Wales and across the Bristol channel to Hinkley and beyond to Oldbury, a further proposed reactor to be built by Hitachi. The government needs to call time on nuclear power.

“This flagship energy project for Wales is now in meltdown and comes on the back of the government deciding to abandon the Swansea tidal lagoon. Government energy policy is in disarray and the UK needs an energy strategy that puts renewables at its heart. Renewable energy technologies now offer the cleanest, greenest and cheapest energy available. The price of onshore wind is now $20MWh compared to the Hinkley strike-price of $120/MWh. And the Department for Business, Energy and Industry has acknowledged that the cost of off-shore wind has halved in the last two years to £57.50/MWh.

“The UK is lagging behind other European countries when it comes to renewable energy generation. 55 per cent of Sweden’s energy use is now provided by renewables; for Portugal it is nearly 30 per cent. Potentially, the UK has some of the best renewable energy resources in Europe. It’s time to unlock these while firmly closing the door on expensive and dangerous nuclear once and for all.”