Japan Atomic Power Co (JAPC) has decided to enter the nuclear power business in the UK through an alliance with Hitachi Ltd, sources close to the matter said on 7 July. Horizon Nuclear Power (owned by Hitachi), JAPC and Hitachi have signed a technical services contract for the proposed Wylfa Newydd NPP in North Wales. JAPC is to support Horizon in areas including construction costing, licensing, and planning for commissioning.
JAPC is expected to operate the NPPs that Horizon aims to build in the UK for start-up in the early 2020s. Horizon plans to build 4-6 units. Hitachi is eager to partner with JAPC, as Hitachi does not have the know-how to operate the plants, Kyodo News Service reported. Japanese utility JAPC is controlled chiefly by regional electric power companies in Japan and owns nuclear reactors, all of which are currently shut down.
Horizon plans to deploy the UK ABWR (Advanced Boiling Water Reactor) at two sites - Wylfa Newydd, which is on the Isle of Anglesey, and Oldbury-on-Severn, in South Gloucestershire. It will be the first BWR in the UK. Horizon announced last month the formation of consortium Menter Newydd to prepare for the construction phase of the new plant. Menter Newydd comprises Bechtel, JGC and Hitachi Nuclear Energy Europe.
Horizon CEO Duncan Hawthorne said JAPC has "highly professional people who've had direct access to BWR technology" and that the cooperation agreement is "another strong sign of the progress we're making". Horizon also said that it is in "active discussions" with a range of other companies for further operational support and advice, such as training its own workforce.
The UK ABWR began the Generic Design Acceptance process in January 2014 and Horizon and the regulators have said it remains on target for completion at the end of 2017.
Meanwhile, detailed offshore ground investigation works are under way to gain a better understanding of the geological conditions offshore from the Wylfa Newydd site. Construction of the plant is expected to begin around 2019 and Horizon expects to have all the required licences and permissions in place for the Wylfa Newydd project by 2018.
Horizon is working with subsea specialists Fugro Geoservices, and is supported by Atkins' geotechnical team, to take core samples from the seabed and coastline over the next couple of months. Two barges, which are floating drilling platforms, will be positioned in the near-shore area of the sea at Porth-y-Pistyll, adjacent to the existing Wylfa Magnox plant. It is in this area that Horizon plans to construct a cooling water intake structure for the new plant, as well as a jetty and breakwater. Some 33 boreholes will be drilled in the area and the barges will be moved between the borehole locations "as and when necessary". The team will also take on-shore samples at Porth-y-Pistyll. Horizon said the work is similar to the on-shore ground investigations it has already completed. In March 2014, the company began detailed ground investigations at the Wylfa site. The programme, which ran until the end of 2014, required the drilling of some 400 boreholes and trial pits across the site.