Japanese industrial group Hitachi is said to have the favoured bid for the Horizon nuclear projects abandoned by German firms RWE and Eon.
The selection of Hitachi to lead these UK nuclear new-build projects would help the company balance the damaging effects that the decision to phase out nuclear power in Japan by 2040 has had on its operations and prospects.
Next-generation nuclear power is a key element in the UK government’s strategy for a decarbonised economy. However, progress on nuclear new build has been frustrated in recent years by the after effects of the Fukushima disaster and the subsequent decision from Germany to cut nuclear power out of its future energy mix.
This decision brought an end to RWE and Eon’s commitment to build two nuclear power stations in the UK – at Wylfa, Anglesey and Oldbury, Gloucestershire.
If Hitachi, in collaboration with SNC-Lavalin is successful in taking over these contracts they will cut out rivals from Westinghouse Electric Company.
This would be a significant coup for the Hitachi ABWR reactor design which is behind the Westinghouse AP1000 in the process of design approval from the UK nuclear authorities.
Approval for a UK build of the ABWR could take as long as four years, news which would be unwelcome to the UK’s manufacturing supply chain for nuclear which has been calling for clarity on the timescales for new-build for some time.
ABWR reactors have however, been built outside the UK and have an advantage over other reactor designs in that they are faster to construct. An ABWR reactor takes about three-and-a-half years to build.
The identity of the sources who claim Hitachi is favoured for the Horizon bid have not been disclosed. But they are said to be close to the matter.
A final decision on the reallocation of the Horizon projects is expected within a week.