Horizon seeks government finance for Welsh nuclear plant

Hitachi is in talks with the British and Japanese governments on the subject of receiving public finance to assist in the development of the Wylfa nuclear power plant in Wales.

Hitachi owns Horizon Nuclear Power, the company aiming to develop the project.
Wylfa nuclear power plant in Wales
Parties are exploring the possibility of government equity, loans and credit guarantees to finance the multibillion pound project.

The move would be a break away from previous UK government attitudes to using taxpayer money as upfront finance for nuclear power projects but would, according to the FT, tally with prime minister Theresa May’s ‘industrial strategy’, a move towards more government intervention in business affairs.

Following a meeting with government officials and business leaders in Tokyo on Thursday, finance minister Philip Hammond said that financing for the nuclear power project in Wales could total around £12bn, of which a portion would be contributed by Japan. Negotiations are continuing but bankers indicated the Japanese contribution could be on the order of ¥1tn ($8.5bn).

People involved in the process said talks still “have a long way to go” and it was far from certain that a deal with the two governments would be reached.

One person said that any UK financing would be “off balance sheet” to avoid inflating public debts. This could include the government taking a direct minority stake alongside Hitachi provided it did not bring the whole project on to the Treasury’s books. Japanese government support is likely to come in the form of loans.

Horizon says the cost of Wylfa will not be determined until its reactor design is approved by regulators and supply chain plans firm up but the company is aiming for it to be less than the £18bn price tag for Hinkley Point C.

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