Horizon Nuclear Power, part of Japan’s Hitachi, on 22 August announced it had appointed US engineering firm Bechtel as Project Management Contractor (PMC) for its proposed Wylfa Newydd NPP on the UK Isle of Anglesey. Horizon has also signed further contracts with Hitachi Nuclear Energy Europe and JGC New Energy UK Limited (JGC) to continue to provide support during the project’s development stage.

Horizon, which was established in 2009 and acquired by Hitachi in 2012, plans to construct 5.4GWe of new nuclear capacity at two UK sites – the first at Wylfa Newydd in Wales and the second at Oldbury-on-Severn in England. Horizon in 2016 appointed a joint venture responsible for construction of the Wylfa Newydd plant. Menter Newydd is a joint venture of Hitachi Nuclear Energy Europe, Bechtel Management Company and JGC Corporation (UK). Hitachi Nuclear Energy Europe is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Japan's Hitachi Ltd, while JGC New Energy UK Ltd is a UK-registered 100% subsidiary of Japanese engineering firm JGC Corporation.

Hitachi Nuclear Energy Europe will supply two UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWRs) for the new Wylfa Newydd units, to be built next to the existing Wylfa A nuclear station. JGC will continue to provide specialist engineering contractor services. The ABWR design was developed jointly by GE, Hitachi and Toshiba, before the merger of GE and Hitachi, and is derived from GE's BWR. Four units operated commercially in Japan – Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units 6 and 7, Hamaoka 5 and Shika 2. ABWRs are now offered in slightly different versions by GE-Hitachi, Hitachi-GE and Toshiba.

Horizon said the move “further strengthens the delivery structure and builds on previous intensive work, enabling the project to move into the next phase”. Bechtel, who will have nearly 200 employees embedded within Horizon, will oversee the project management of the power station, together with Horizon. Bechtel has operated in UK construction for over 60 years and has been involved in more than 150 nuclear plants worldwide, acting as architect engineer for 71 plants and constructing 42. “The company will sit at the heart of the Wylfa Newydd project organisation, leading the contractual and commercial interface with suppliers on behalf of Horizon.”

Horizon said: “Assuming a successful project outcome, Hitachi Nuclear Energy Europe will deliver the UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWR) for the power station, also drawing on their technology expertise to act as Architect Engineer. JGC will continue to provide a range of specialist services around the ‘Balance of Plant’, the supporting components and systems needed to deliver the energy beyond the generating unit itself.”

Duncan Hawthorne, CEO of Horizon Nuclear Power, said: “Our first power station will be cheaper than what has gone before and after that, with smart financing, supply chain learnings and no need for first time overheads, future project costs will fall further still.” The embedding of Bechtel within Horizon will mirror the kind of client/contractor relationship that has been successful in delivering the previous four ABWR nuclear reactors on time and on budget.

In June, the UK Government confirmed it was considering direct investment in the Wylfa Newydd project as a means to deliver affordable secure supplies of low carbon power to the UK. In July, the Planning Inspectorate, which considers major infrastructure project applications, accepted a 41,000-page submission for a Development Consent Order for Wylfa Newydd. The examination phase is expected to begin in the autumn.

Earlier this year Horizon won European environmental approval for Wylfa Newydd when the plans received a positive opinion from the European Commission under Article 37 of the Euratom Treaty. The EC said the station will have no significant health or environmental impact on other member states.

Horizon has not released an official estimate for the cost of two planned Wylfa Newydd ABWRs and said that the often-quoted figure of GBP20bn was “just guesswork” and was “too high”. A spokesman for Horizon told NucNet in an email that the company is still in the process of building up a cost estimate through supply chain engagement, analysis of site development costs, and analysis of the project’s financing and funding structure and its impact on the cost of capital.