Comment and analysis on Hitachi nuclear pullout

Commenting on the news that Hitachi is pulling out of construction of the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant in Wales, Dr Jonathan Marshall, Head of Analysis at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said:

"While certainly a setback in the Government’s energy plans, Hitachi’s decision to walk away from Wylfa should not cause alarm bells to start ringing. Electricity authorities are by now very well-versed in coping with the nuclear industry’s tendency to deliver late or not at all – after all, the lights remain firmly on in both France and Finland despite their new reactors at Flamanville and Olkiluoto being respectively seven and 10 years overdue.

“In recent years Government has quietly cut back its expectations for nuclear new build, and that’s looking more and more realistic as the price of renewable generation falls and the benefits of the flexible smart grid become more apparent. Filling the nuclear gap with renewables would indeed require an increase in rollout, but one that is well within UK capabilities

“The National Infrastructure Commission for example reports that building a renewables-based smart grid would trim up to £8bn per year from the nation’s electricity bill by 2030, and it is in these technologies, rather than in nuclear or gas generation, that investors are looking to put their money. With enough focus on smart low-carbon energy, there’s no reason why Britain shouldn’t achieve all its energy objectives despite the cancellation of these nuclear stations.”

New analysis from the ECIU examines ways of filling the growing ‘nuclear gap’, created by the cancelling of the Moorside, Wylfa and, as seems likely, Oldbury nuclear projects. It finds that deploying alternative low-carbon power sources would be up to a third cheaper than the cost of energy from nuclear power, and would keep bills down, maintain secure energy supply and allow the UK to maintain progress towards legally binding climate targets.