Hitachi will seek investors in Horizon

02 November 2012

The Horizon Nuclear Power project will be taken forward by Hitachi, but the Japanese firm will secure other investors before construction starts on the first new reactor.

Outlining its intentions to World Nuclear News, Hitachi explained that it had received interest in Horizon from a broad range of firms with backgrounds in engineering, manufacturing, trading and financial investment.

Utilities have also expressed interest, and Hitachi said it would secure at least one generation company among a range of investors by the time of ground-breaking - towards the end of this decade. Horizon itself will be built up to take the role of owner-operator of the new power plants, leaving Hitachi to find suitable partners to achieve this. The first of six potential reactors should operate in the first half of the 2020s.

ABWR (Hitachi) 460x120
Inside an Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (Image: Hitachi)

The Japanese technology giant bought up Horizon Nuclear Power for £696 million ($1.1 billion) this week from German utilities EOn and RWE, complete with 90 staff and rights to land at two current nuclear sites, Wylfa and Oldbury. The purchase will be completed by the end of this month.

Before being put up for sale in March Horizon had been at the point of selecting a reactor design to build at Wylfa, choosing between the Areva EPR and Westinghouse AP1000. Hitachi will instead use its Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) that it can offer through its joint venture arrangements with General Electric. The subsidiary Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy will manage the engineering and manufacturing of the Horizon ABWRs while three engineering firms have signed memorandums of understanding with Hitachi to explore cooperation: Rolls-Royce, Babcock International and SNC-Lavalin.

In May 2011 Hitachi won the tender to build Lithuania's Visaginas project, unusually agreeing to take a 20% stake in the project which will produce around 1350 MWe from a single ABWR. However, Hitachi's investment in Horizon stands to be many times bigger - at present the company has 100% ownership of a project that could grow to 7800 MWe from six ABWR units. The new push into overseas markets is not a reaction to Japan's moves against nuclear energy in domestic markets, said the company told WNN.

The ABWR design remains to be approved for use at UK nuclear sites and must go through the Generic Design Approval process of the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR), which might take four years. Hitachi said it would begin work towards this "immediately", and yesterday in parliament energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey confirmed the ONR "would have all the resources it needs" for the job.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News