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Hitachi set to withdraw completely from stalled British nuclear power plant project

This Aug. 7, 2019 photo shows the planned construction site of a nuclear reactor, which was part of a project by Hitachi Ltd. A nuclear power plant can be seen at the far right. (Mainichi/Kohei Misawa)

TOKYO -- Hitachi Ltd. is set to completely withdraw its plan to build a new nuclear power plant in Britain, sources close to the matter revealed on Sept. 14.

    Hitachi announced in January 2019 that the project would be frozen, and the Tokyo-based electronics giant recently determined that resuming the work is impossible. The official decision will be made at a board meeting on Sept. 16 at the earliest, and Hitachi will then notify the British government about the withdrawal. The export of nuclear power plants, which the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promoted, will have failed yet again. The withdrawal will also seriously impact the British government's nuclear energy policies, which rely on foreign investment.

    Hitachi planned to build a two-reactor nuclear plant on Anglesey Island in Wales through a British nuclear power company it bought in 2012. The company aimed to start operations at the plant in the mid-2020s. The plan outlined that out of the total project cost of around 3 trillion yen (about 22 billion pounds, or $28.38 billion), the British government would extend 2 trillion yen (roughly 14.7 billion pounds, or $18.92 billion) in loans, while Hitachi as well as the Japanese government and private sectors and their British counterparts would finance a total of 900 billion yen (about 6.6 billion pounds, or $8.51 billion). However, there was a surge in construction expenses stemming from security measures among other costs, and the project had been frozen.

    Although Hitachi had upheld the stance that resuming the project remained an option if the British government made new proposals such as additional support, sources told the Mainichi Shimbun that "the situation is no different at present," and it seems that the company determined that it can no longer expect any progress.

    (Japanese original by Takashi Yamashita and Mihoko Kato, Business News Department)

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