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UK Horizon nuclear project moves forward

28 May 2013

Horizon Nuclear Power has signed a major contract with its reactor technology provider and primary contractor, Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, to build new nuclear reactors in the UK. The contract sets the framework for design work to be undertaken for a new build at Wylfa in North Wales, close to the site of the existing nuclear power station.

The Wylfa site on Anglesey
The Wylfa site on Anglesey

Horizon’s chief operating officer Alan Raymant said: "This is a multi-million pound contract stretching over several years, and represents another major step forward in our project.

“It will support our site development work, allow us to assess the best construction timetable for Wylfa, feed into our public consultations and support the supply chain development strategy. Wylfa is an excellent site for a new nuclear power station, and with the FEED contract in place we will be able to work with Hitachi-GE to develop plans to bring this project to life”.

On May 23, Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon met with executives from Hitachi and Horizon, ahead of local supplier events in Llandudno and Gloucester being run by the companies, to source services from local firms.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Fallon said: “I want to be clear that we are firmly committed to ensuring that new nuclear goes ahead in this country. Hitachi has made a 100-year commitment to investing in nuclear in the UK, with £20bn planned investment in reactors at Wylfa and Oldbury.

“Hitachi has said that about 60% of the value of their first nuclear plant is expected to be sourced locally and already, agreements have been signed with two of our best known brands, Babcock International and Rolls Royce to provide parts for the new reactors. Hitachi expect that up to 6,000 jobs will be directly supported during construction at each site, with a further 1,000 permanent jobs at each site once operational.

Fallon continued: “Hitachi plan to build 2-3 reactors at each site, with the first station in Wylfa coming online in the first half of the 2020s.”

Raymant added: "Our projects at Wylfa and Oldbury represent an investment of around £20bn in the UK, and can provide a much-needed boost to the national economy.

Two to three Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWR) are planned to be built at each Horizon site, beginning with two at Wylfa. This will be the only Generation III+ reactor in operation anywhere in the world, with four ABWRs in Japan, and three others under construction in Japan and Taiwan.

The reactor design needs to obtain generic assessment approval from the Health and Safety Executive's Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) before it can be built.

At the beginning of April, ONR and the Environment Agency signed agreements with Hitachi-GE to enable the start of the assessment process, which could take up to four years.

Horizon Nuclear Power was formed in 2009 to develop new nuclear power stations in the UK, but was put up for sale by its founders, E.ON and RWE npower, in March last year. It was acquired by Hitachi last November.

The original proposal was to build either Areva 1,650 MWe EPR reactors or Westinghouse 1,100 MWe AP1000 reactors, but plans were dropped on cost grounds.

Hitachi-GE is the joint technology provider and delivery team leader for Horizon’s developments at Wylfa on the Isle of Anglesey and Oldbury-on-Severn in South Gloucestershire. It is 80.01% owned by Hitachi Ltd and 19.99% by General Electric.

The country's most advanced nuclear new-build project, EDF Energy's Hinkley Point C programme, has been held up for the last six months because of disgreements between the government and EDF over the final price of electricity to be generated at the station.

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