The British government is under pressure to make a decision on its potential involvement in the development of a nuclear power complex in Wales, with the discovery of fractures on a plant in Scotland adding greater impetus for a call to be made.
The discovery of faults at Hunterston nuclear power plant are an indication of the threat posed by deterioration of the existing fleet. With coal power being phased out, the government is under pressure to assist a greater nuclear input, although many such plants are set for 2025 closures.
The Hitachi-led conglomerate behind plans to build the new the 2.9 GW reactor at the Wylfa nuclear site in Wales is expected to call on the government to take a direct stake in the new plant, or risk the £27bn project falling through.
Talks are under way between Hitachi chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi and the prime minister Theresa May, who will not want to see the Japanese depart, given the context of closures threatening overall energy security.
EDF Energy said the new cracks in its 42-year old Hunterston reactor mean that the plant will be closed for much of 2018, meaning more expensive gas-fired power may be required to fill the gap in the UK’s power supplies this summer. Hunterston is scheduled to shut entirely by 2023.