United Kingdom

Kwasi Kwarteng 'backs new nuclear power plant in Wales'

Kwasi Kwarteng is backing plans to build another major nuclear power plant in Wales to ease pressure on electricity supplies, it was claimed today.

The Business Secretary is believed to be lining up behind an attempt to revive proposals for a site at Wylfa on Anglesey.

The project could happen alongside a second nuclear plant at Hinkley Point , Somerset, already under construction, and a new reactor at Sizewell in Suffolk that is close to going ahead.

A previous attempt to build a nuclear power station at Wylfa collapsed a year ago after Japanese firm Hitachi pulled out. 

But according to The Times the government is now in discussions with US manufacturer Westinghouse. 

An artist's impression of the planned nuclear power station at Wylfa on Anglesey that was abandoned last year

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is believed to be lining up behind an attempt to revive proposals for a site at Wylfa on Anglesey

The move comes amid mounting concerns that by the early 2030s there will not be enough nuclear power on the grid to provide a reliable 'baseload', with gas stations being phased out. 

The new plant at Wylfa could produce enough electricity to power more than six million homes, although it would not be operational until the mid-2030s.

The UK's seven nuclear plants provide about 17 per cent of its electricity needs, but that is due to nearly halve by 2024 as ageing plants are decommissioned. 

Mr Kwarteng is reportedly lobbying the Treasury for a funding mechanism to attract private investment, with the cost of nuclear having previously hampered development. 

At least one nuclear plant is expected to be signed off by 2024, but alarm about supplies could mean two go ahead.

A senior government source said soaring gas prices and unusually low wind speeds in the North Sea had underlined the need to push nuclear. 

'If our current situation shows anything it is that we need more stable homegrown, low-carbon generation in the UK,' the source told the Times. 'This is an important project that we're very keen to try and get off the ground.'

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart is also said to support the Wylfa plan.

Barbara Rusinko, president of nuclear at engineering firm Bechtel, which is part of the Wylfa consortium, told MPs yesterday that US involvement would 'strengthen the transatlantic security partnership'.

'We need the UK government to demonstrate backing for the project through commitment in the comprehensive spending review,' she said.

Construction of the nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset is continuing (pictured in December 2020) 

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