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Hitachi to seek UK licence for Wylfa and Oldbury reactors

Japanese engineering firm Hitachi is expecting it to take four years to get its Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) through the UK licensing process, NCE has learned.


Wylfa: Hitachi has bought the rights to develop nuclear power plants

Hitachi this week finalised its purchase of Horizon Nuclear Power from current owners German energy giants RWE and Eon for a reported £700M.

The deal gives Hitachi the right to develop nuclear plants at Wylfa in north Wales and Oldbury in Gloucester. It hopes to use the ABWR technology at these sites.

But Horizon head of communications Leon Flexman said Hitachi was expecting it to take four years to get the reactor through the generic design assessment (GDA) - a four step licensing process excluding site specifics - beginning in early 2013.

It means it cannot pour concrete on the nuclear island until 2017 at the earliest and virtually ensures that energy will not be generated by 2020 as previously planned.

EdF is allowing four years between first concrete pour and start of generation.

Hitachi has allocated four years for the approvals process because UK standards are so rigorous.

Nuclear engineering firms Areva and Westinghouse began the GDA process for their reactors - the European Pressurised Reactor and the AP1000 respectively - in 2008. Neither has full clearance.

The firm has already signed memorandums of understanding with UK engineering firms Rolls Royce and Babcock for the supply of reactor components.

Flexman said the firm hopes to place 60% of its orders in the UK and will create a modularisation site.

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