Nuclear reactor maker Westinghouse is preparing to assemble a new multidisciplinary construction team to build reactors for operator Horizon at Wylfa in north Wales and Oldbury in Gloucester, it emerged this week.
The firm’s original team – known as Nuclear Power Delivery and comprising contractors Laing O’Rourke and Shaw plus engineering giant Toshiba – was dissolved in March after Horizon suspended its new build programme when it was put up for sale.
The bidding process to buy Horizon from current owners German energy firms RWE and Eon, is now underway after a decision to sell was announced in March.
Westinghouse is moving to secure the best team and be ready to bid when the new owner is announced.
“If selected [to supply nuclear reactors to Horizon] we will start in earnest to create a UK-based team,” said Westinghouse senior vice president, nuclear power plant business development Sandy Rupprecht.
Westinghouse UK chief executive officer Michael Tynan confirmed the plans and said the firm “would look to have discussions in the New Year and would involve a major UK civil engineering contractor”.
The firm has spent the past four years putting its AP1000 reactor design through the Office of Nuclear Regulation’s Generic Design Assessment – a four step licensing process covering all areas of non-site specific design from civil engineering to reactor chemistry.
It received interim approval for the design last December but “paused” its licensing process until the firm had an order for a UK nuclear power station.
Before beginning construction, Westinghouse must gain a final design acceptance. Tynan said this would take about a year – “a timescale that has been agreed with the regulator”.
Since Nuclear Power Delivery was dissolved, contractor Laing O’Rourke has been selected for the main civils work at EdF’s site at Hinkley Point C in Somerset. . But Tynan declined to confirm whether this would rule Laing O’Rourke out of a position in a new consortium.
“We knew Laing O’Rourke was bidding for EdF – it was two separate teams,” said Tynan.
Westinghouse is understood to be bidding with China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) to buy Horizon from RWE and EON. Rival firm Areva is understood to be bidding with China’s Guangdong Nuclear Power.