Hitachi has joined Toshiba in ending its UK nuclear construction project. While the Japanese giant has not ruled out future construction, for now at least the project is on hold.
Hitachi’s announcement comes as little surprise. Uncertainty surrounding Brexit has weighed heavily on Japanese investors, some of who have seen the vote to leave as a betrayal of a formerly strong relationship. Costs have risen on the project and the UK Government had been less than forthcoming with support for it. With returns under threat, it was little surprise that Hitachi paused.
The UK’s nuclear capacity is shrinking as old reactors are decommissioned and new ones are abandoned or held up. Concerns are being raised the country may miss its commitments to reduce emissions as coal and gas stations have to stay operational for longer. There’s also the rising risk of brownouts as renewable projects aren’t likely to fill the gaps at current rates of growth.
Although government officials have referenced talks, it seems the demise of Hitachi and Toshiba’s nuclear projects have hastened the UK’s commitment to nuclear energy. There are other pressing demands for funds and the Brexit uncertainty. For the foreseeable future it appears nuclear is off the table.