French company EDF is all ready to start construction at Hinkley Point C in Somerset but has been unable to agree a crucial ‘contract for difference’ with the government. Without this, EDF does not know if its business case stands up and so everything has been put on hold and staff have been laid off.
However, Michael Fallon, the minister responsible for both energy and construction, has said that the government remains “firmly committed to ensuring that new nuclear goes ahead in this country”.
And if a deal cannot be done with the French, then there is always the Japanese.
Mr Fallon is meeting today with executives from Hitachi and Horizon, who are planning to invest £20bn in new nuclear plants at Wylfa in Anglesey and Oldbury in Gloucestershire. Hitachi stepped in last year to rescue the Horizon nuclear project after German firms RWE and E.ON backed out in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan.
Hitachi plans to build two or three reactors at each site with the first station in Wylfa coming online in the first half of the 2020s. Some 6,000 jobs are expected to be created during construction.
The minister will also address an event attended by hundreds of businesses who are hoping to bid for contracts that will become available.
Speaking ahead of his visit to Horizon, Mr Fallon said: “Nuclear in the UK is about more than just one project. Three ventures – including the Horizon project I’m visiting – are making serious progress. Momentum is building, and when companies across the globe are thinking nuclear, I want them to think Britain.
“I want to be clear that we are firmly committed to ensuring that new nuclear goes ahead in this country. Nuclear already provides around a fifth of our electricity, so it is vital for our energy security now, and in future.
“While new build is hugely important, UK nuclear is also about developing and exporting our world-leading decommissioning expertise, and boosting the domestic supply-chain, creating new skilled jobs across the country.
“Today, I am delighted to be meeting senior executives from Hitachi and Horizon to get an update on their new nuclear build programme and to meet businesses that will be bidding for supply-chain contracts.
“Our industrial strategy has set out a long- term plan and commitment to the UK’s nuclear industry, to foster exactly this sort of investment. By working in partnership with industry, we can give that confidence to invest, help build the supply chain and create high-skilled jobs here in Britain.
“We welcome international investment in our energy infrastructure, but this project is particularly exciting because it will provide thousands of jobs for British workers and hundreds of contracts for British businesses.
“Hitachi has said that about 60% of the value of their first nuclear plant is expected to be sourced locally and already, agreements have been signed with two of our best known brands, Babcock International and Rolls Royce to provide parts for the new reactors.
“But it is not just engineering businesses that stand to benefit. Today, local companies will find out about a whole host of contracts that will become available from major construction and engineering contracts through to supply-chain and service contracts for facilities on-site in things like equipment, fencing, cleaning and catering.
“So, the knock-on effects of this development could be massive, providing a welcome boost for the local economy and community.”
Horizon chief operating officer Alan Raymant said: “We are delighted to be able to lay out our plans today, and discuss how we can work alongside government and potential suppliers to ensure UK firms are well placed to take advantage of the opportunities our project will create, and to maximise benefits for the UK economy.”
Energy secretary Ed Davey travels to Japan and South Korea next week to meet a number of businesses and investors in energy, as well as executives from Hitachi.