Hitachi buys Horizon for £700m

Hitachi has bought Horizon Nuclear Power from RWE and E.ON for £700m. The deal will be completed at the end of November and the Japanese giant plans to start its […]

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By Sumit Bose

Hitachi has bought Horizon Nuclear Power from RWE and E.ON for £700m. The deal will be completed at the end of November and the Japanese giant plans to start its nuclear new build programme straight away.

Two British companies will be involved in the project; Babcock International and Rolls-Royce have signed MOUs to join Hitachi to plan and deliver the programme which will carry on where Horizon left off when the scheme was mothballed in March. Hitachi will build two to three 1300 MW plants at each of Horizon’s sites at Wylfa, Anglesey and Oldbury, Gloucestershire, with the first plant generating by 2025.

Hiroaki Nakanishi, President of Hitachi, Ltd. said: “I am extremely pleased that we have been successful in acquiring Horizon Nuclear Power. Today starts our hundred year commitment to the UK and its vision to achieve a long-term, secure, low-carbon, and affordable energy supply. We look forward to sharing Hitachi’s corporate vision and nuclear business policy with the management and employees of Horizon and working harmoniously with UK companies and stakeholders for the delivery of this vital part of Britain’s national infrastructure and the creation of a strong UK nuclear power company.”

Today’s deal was predicted for sometime and was clearly received with relief by government. Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: “Hitachi bring with them decades of expertise  and are responsible for building some of the most advanced nuclear reactors on time and on budget, so I welcome their commitment to helping build a low carbon secure energy future for the UK.  I particularly welcome Hitachi’s firm commitment to involve the UK supply chain and local workforce.

“New nuclear isn’t only about keeping the lights on and emissions down, it’s an industrial strategy with big potential wins. The Nuclear Industry Council I’m announcing today will play a crucial role in this and I believe there’s the potential for the UK to become globally recognised as the go-to place for the next generation of nuclear.”

The bosses of EON and npower also welcomed the deal and the opportunity for them to ditch a nuclear programme that they claimed had become unaffordable. Many have speculated the real reason they scrapped Horizon was pressure from their German parent companies who have to operate in a nation that’s turned its back on nuclear.

RWE npower Group CEO, Volker Beckers said: “A huge amount of work has already been done by Horizon’s highly skilled workforce and today’s announcement is a clear signal that the work done has significant value and that Government policy on new nuclear for the UK is on the right track. It’s an excellent deal for all concerned. RWE has invested more than £3.4bn into new lower carbon infrastructure for Britain over the last three years, more than any other energy company. That has given us not only the largest operational portfolio of renewable energy technologies in the country, but also the largest and most efficient fleet of gas-fired power stations.“

His counterpart at EON Tony Cocker added: “Throughout this process we have been clear that new nuclear developments have a vital role to play in helping the UK produce the low carbon electricity it will need. As is clearly shown by the daily actions of our 12,000 UK colleagues, E.ON will continue to give 100% commitment to this country and our customers. Last year we invested over £1billion and our current developments including Blackburn Meadows, a £120m state of the art biomass plant in Sheffield and Rampion offshore wind farm near Brighton that could see up to £2bn invested, prove beyond doubt that we will play our part in helping to transform the UK’s energy infrastructure.”

Once the deal is signed Hitachi will apply for a licence under the Generic Design Assessment process as governed by the Office for Nuclear Regulation. It claims the project will create around 6000 jobs during construction and a further 1000 permanent jobs when the power stations are operating.