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By Rachel Morison and Alex Morales

(Bloomberg) –

The UK is considering new proposals for the construction of a new nuclear power project at the Wylfa site in Wales a year after another plan was put on hold for lack of funding.

The government has said nuclear is vital to its plans to achieve net zero emissions by the middle of this century, but has struggled to get large-scale projects built. The latest push for atomic energy comes as Britain grapples with an energy crisis, with soaring natural gas and electricity prices increasing the risk of blackouts this winter.

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Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is pushing the Treasury for a new funding mechanism to attract investors into the industry, while by the early 2030s there will not be enough nuclear capacity to generate sufficient base power as fossil-fueled power plants are phased out, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The Ministry of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy says it has had “exploratory” talks with two groups for the Wylfa site. Proposals have come from a US consortium involving Bechtel Group Inc. and Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC for a full-scale AP1000 reactor, and from Shearwater Group Plc for a small modular reactor combined with a wind farm project, Declan Burke, director nuclear projects at the ministry told a group of lawmakers Thursday.

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“Wylfa is a site that we are familiar with and have been generating interest in an AP1000 for a few years,” said Lindsay Roche, director of government affairs at Westinghouse UK. “We have had very good discussions with Beis over the past 12 months. “

Roche said the consortium was asking the government for a package of “tens of millions of pounds in support”.

Hitachi Ltd. withdrew last year from a long-planned nuclear project at the Wylfa site after being unable to secure a funding deal with the government. Other development plans for the site were abandoned earlier this year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to commit to at least one large-scale reactor by 2025, and the government is funding negotiations with Electricité de France SA for its Sizewell C plant.

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Record-breaking gas and electricity prices have caused the collapse of a number of energy providers in Britain, forcing Kwarteng to reassure voters this week that supplies will not run out this winter. The UK crisis, in part due to a temporary shortage of wind power, is putting nuclear revival talks back on the table.

“You need nuclear alongside variable output from wind and solar, so not only are you minimizing your emissions and getting closer to net zero and 2050 targets, but you dramatically increase energy security and isolate yourself. of what is happening in international gas. markets, ”Tom Greatrex, CEO of the Nuclear Industry Association.

© 2021 Bloomberg LP

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