A development company backed by the Welsh Government says it is embarking on a programme to bring small modular reactor (SMR) technology to the site of the decommissioned nuclear power plant at Trawsfynydd.
Cwmni Egino is wholly owned by the Welsh Government and was established last year to develop a new reactor at the Trawsfynydd site.
The company is working together with the landowner, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), on proposals for the siting of a new nuclear development at Trawsfynydd, with a target date for construction to start in 2027.
The existing nuclear station at Trawsfynydd, which at its peak employed over 700 people, closed in 1993 and decommissioning has been ongoing since 1995.
Cwmni Egino Chief Executive, Alan Raymant, said: “Trawsfynydd offers an unparalleled opportunity for the fastest deployment of SMR technology in the UK given the site’s characteristics and heritage, and the existing skills and infrastructure available.
“By connecting the energy security challenge with the socio-economic challenge, we believe that future development at Traws can create many win-wins.
“As well as delivering benefits locally, there’s huge scope to promote supply chain, skills development and business opportunities in the wider North Wales region and across the UK.
“This type of development at Trawsfynydd will also help to meet energy needs and Net Zero targets, and support the levelling up agenda.”
The UK Government’s Energy Security Strategy published in April stated a commitment to accelerating its nuclear programme, including the deployment of SMRs.
With the design of SMR technology still under development in the UK, Cwmni Egino indicated it is yet to make a decision as to which technology is best suited for the Trawsfynydd site.
Mr Raymant added: “We’re aiming to start exploratory discussions with potential technology partners over the coming months as we continue to work with others to develop our detailed proposals for the site.
“We’ve set an ambitious programme based on construction starting as early as 2027. This is because we recognise that significant benefits can arise from construction, as well as operation. The earliest we can secure those benefits for communities, the better.
“Before then, there is clearly a lot of work that needs to be done, at pace. Our focus for the coming months will be to put together a full business proposition to define the scope of the project, how it will be delivered and funded, and how we can ensure a positive impact on communities.”
Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said: “There is a great deal of potential in the Trawsfynydd site. We established Cwmni Egino so this potential can be realised. The team is now in place and the work is well under way.
“The future development of the Trawsfynydd site will benefit the local community and wider North Wales region, bringing jobs and skills opportunities.”
Liz Saville Roberts, the Plaid Cymru MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, said that she was also a supporter of the proposed development at Trawsfynydd.
She added: “I welcome Cwmni Egino’s plans to develop the Trawsfynydd nuclear-licensed site. I believe that Wales should play a leading, ambitious role in the development of low carbon energy technologies in an interconnected world where energy affordability and security will become increasingly more important.
“I look forward also to the quality jobs and sustainable social and economic opportunities for Meirionnydd and Gwynedd which will be associated with these plans.
“My constituency is among the lowest waged in the United Kingdom, and the development of our future economy cries out for a range of job options for young people, as well as appropriate skills and training opportunities.”
The UK Government is also pushing for the construction of a second nuclear power plant in Wales.
Westinghouse and Bechtel, the US reactor maker and engineering group, are hoping to win UK Government backing for their plan to build two reactors on the site of the decommissioned Wylfa power plant on Anglesey.
Their AP1000 reactor design has already completed initial safety approval for use in Britain.
The Anglesey project is expected to cost between £14 and £17bn to build and won’t be up and running until the 2030s.
Campaign group PAWB have already rejected the proposals, saying that any ‘small’ nuclear reactor would not be “small at all” as it would be larger than the reactor sited at Trawsfynydd in the first instance.
“They want government public handouts for designing the reactors, more astronomic handouts financed through our already vastly inflated electricity bills to construct these radiotoxic monstrosities, and then even more handouts for an agreed price for electricity produced,” Dylan Morgan from PAWB said last month.
“And last but not at all least, the massive decommissioning costs over thousands of years of reactors and all the problems with storage of hazardous nuclear wastes.
“There is little wonder that no corporations have come forward in droves to get a nuclear renaissance much-promised from the Blair/Brown era going.
“Labelling Wylfa and Trawsfynydd as possible new sites for this most dangerous, dirty, radiotoxic, health-threatening and expensive technology is an insult to the people of Wales.”