Britain's nuclear expansion plans were boosted this week after Japanese engineering company Hitachi signed a deal that will enable it to start building the next generation of power plants.
Hitachi has announced that it will be developing up to six new nuclear plants in the UK after buying the Horizon Nuclear Power venture from RWE and E.ON in a deal worth £700 million.
The Hitachi Horizon programme will see the construction of two or three 1,300 MW plants at each of Horizon’s existing sites in Anglesey, North Wales and in Oldbury, Gloucestershire. The first unit will start providing electricity by the mid-2020s, and once fully operational the two sites will provide enough energy to power a total of 14 million homes.
Two British firms - power systems company Rolls-Royce and engineering services group Babcock International - will work with Hitachi on the projects. The company expects the programme to create around 12,000 jobs during the construction phase and 2,000 permanent job once completed.
The president of Hitachi, Hirokai Nakanishi, said: "Today starts our 100-year commitment to the UK and its vision to achieve a long-term, secure, low-carbon, and affordable energy supply.”
Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the deal, hailing it as a “decades-long, multi-billion pound vote of confidence in the UK, that will contribute vital new infrastructure to power our economy.”
However, environmental groups have expressed concern both at the expansion of nuclear in the UK and at Hitachi's involvement.
Greenpeace energy campaigner Leila Deen commented: “It speaks volumes about the UK’s struggling nuclear programme that the Government is promoting a reactor that's years from being granted UK safety approval and is designed by the company that helped build Fukushima. Instead of waiting years to find out how much billpayers will end up subsidising this project, the Government should join Japan and Germany, abandon nuclear, and invest instead in clean, renewable energy.”
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