It is in discussions with US nuclear reactor manufacturer Westinghouse, amongst other groups, to develop the new station at the Wylfa Newydd site in Anglesey, Wales, The Times reported. The existing Wylfa site has two gas-cooled units that have been permanently shut down and are being decommissioned.
If the plans were to go ahead, the new station would be able to generate enough electricity to power more than six million homes from the mid-2030s.
The new facility would come in addition to two EPR units under construction by EDF at Hinkley Point C, Somerset, and a proposal for two new EPR units at Sizewell C, Suffolk, which is in advanced planning stages.
The timeline for EDF to decide whether to go ahead with the £20bn Sizewell C project has reportedly slipped because of a lengthy planning approval process and continuing negotiations over funding.
The French state-owned energy company had been hoping to make a decision this year, but now expects to leave it until up to 2023 before deciding whether to proceed, press reports said.
Ministers are reportedly concerned existing nuclear projects do not support the country’s ambition of reducing its carbon rates, with business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng having reservations that by the early-2030s there will not be enough nuclear power to phase out gas power.
He is understood to back plans to build a new plant at Wylfa, and is lobbying the Treasury to seek private investment.
The government is also said to be in “exploratory” talks with other consortiums about the development of new nuclear, according to the director of Nuclear Projects and Development at the government’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department.
Giving evidence to the Welsh Affairs Committee, Declan Burke said his department had been in discussions with US engineering firm Bechtel, which proposes building a Westinghouse AP1000 reactor.
A number of UK pension funds have also expressed interest in building reactors at Wylfa.
Simon Forster, director of UK clean energy company Shearwater, which is interested in taking on the project, told MPs on Thursday he was in contact with a “group of pension funds who are very keen to invest” in the project.
Hitachi subsidiary Horizon was planning to build two UK advanced boiling water reactor (UK ABWR) units at Wylfa. The cost of the project had been put at about £20bn.
Horizon announced earlier this year it had officially withdrawn its application for planning permission for the construction and operation of the station and associated infrastructure, citing problems with financing.
The EPR units under construction at Hinkley Point C are the only commercial nuclear plants being built in the country. Sizewell C is the only new-build project in the UK for which planning permission is being sought.
Three projects – Wylfa, Moorside and Oldbury – have either been cancelled or shelved, largely because of financing problems, while Bradwell remains in the early technical stages.