Hitachi's U.K. nuclear project to get guarantees from government -media

TOKYO, May 9 (Reuters) - Hitachi Ltd’s Horizon Nuclear Power unit has received an assurance from the British government that it will guarantee loans for the construction of two reactors in Wales, the Mainichi newspaper reported on Wednesday.

British Prime Minister Theresa May met Hitachi Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi last week in London and asked him to go ahead the project, conveying the government’s intention to fully guarantee the loans, the paper said, without citing a source.

As the project costs have increased to meet new safety provisions, Hitachi is still pushing for the British government to take a stake in the project and guarantee electricity prices to ensure it is profitable, the Mainichi said.

The cost of the Hitachi project in Wales has ballooned to 3 trillion yen ($27.4 billion) due to the tougher safety measures, the newspaper said.

Hitachi declined to comment, when contacted by Reuters.

The British government is seeking new ways to fund nuclear projects after criticism over a deal awarded to France’s EDF to build the first nuclear plant in Britain in 20 years, which could cost consumers 30 billion pounds ($41 billion).

Britain needs to replace ageing nuclear reactors and coal plants coming offline in the 2020s but high up-front costs have delayed the construction of new plants.

For Hitachi, Horizon would help further Japan’s ambitions to export its nuclear technology after the Fukushima nuclear disaster made the construction of new reactors difficult at home.

Hitachi’s Horizon plans to construct at least 5.4 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity at two sites in Britain – at Wylfa Newydd in Wales and at Oldbury-on-Severn in England. ($1 = 0.7391 pounds) ($1 = 109.5000 yen) (Reporting by Yoshiyasu Shida and Osamu Tsukimori; Writing by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)