Wylfa prioritised for gigawatt-scale new build

By 22 May 2024 June 25th, 2024 Industry news

The UK government is seeking to engage with nuclear developers interested in a gigawatt-scale new build project at Wylfa.

The exercise follows the acquisition by Great British Nuclear of development sites at Wylfa on Ynys Mon (Anglesey) and Oldbury in Gloucestershire. Both sites were previously owned by Horizon Nuclear Power, which suspended development in 2019.

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) has now confirmed that Wylfa is its preferred site for a third gigawatt-scale nuclear power plant, following EDF’s new build projects at Hinkley Point C (underway, with first generation expected in around 2030) and Sizewell C (yet to begin, with a final investment decision expected this year).

Gwen Parry-Jones, CEO of Great British Nuclear (GBN), commented: “Having agreed to purchase the Wylfa site earlier this year, GBN looks forward to working with the government on the market engagement programme for large scale gigawatt providers and also delivering this vital project in the years to come.”

DESNZ says the pre-tender market engagement aims to gather information from potential vendors which will help the department:

  • Understand the best approach for a potential future large-scale nuclear project in the UK.
  • Understand the capacity of the market to deliver a large reactor project and the possible opportunities and risks involved.
  • Understand the requirements on government to support any future project.
  • Provide the market with an opportunity to ask questions and flag any issues.
  • Inform initial value for money considerations.

The engagement will also explore vendors’ ability to develop other sites. In a written statement to Parliament, energy minister Claire Coutinho emphasised that the preference for Wylfa should not preclude access for small modular reactor (SMR) development. GBN aims to announce successful bidders for the small modular reactor competition by the end of this year.

“Wylfa is the best site in Europe for a big nuclear project: it has an existing grid connection, the hard bedrock ideal for a nuclear power station, superior cooling water access, and some work to clear the site for large-scale construction was already done by the previous developer,” commented Tom Greatrex, CEO of the Nuclear Industry Association. “A large-scale project at Wylfa would be the single biggest inward investment in Welsh history, and a huge step towards both energy security and net zero for the whole country.”