Horizon Nuclear Power and their plans for Oldbury and Wylfa nuclear power stations

A Talk by John Gilbert, Horizon Nuclear Power Head of Strategy and Development
Wednesday 12th March 2014

On the 12th March 2014 John Gilbert, Horizon Nuclear Power Head of Strategy and Development, delivered a very interesting and enlightening talk. He initially provided a brief history of Horizon before moving on to reveal the way they were planning to deliver a nuclear power capabilities adjoining the existing Wylfa and Olbury Sites.

Horizon was formed in January 2009 as a joint venture between the two German power companies, EON and RWE, with a view to providing New Nuclear power generation for the UK. However, Horizon was put up for sale following Germany's political decision to run down its nuclear generation industry following the Japanese tsunami and resulting Fukushima accident coupled with the economic recession. It was acquired by Hitachi Ltd in November 2012 with a view to creating a market for their products and in the firm belief that they have a solution that can be provide capacity to cost and time.

As part of the British Governments growing realization that to meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments and maintain an adequate electricity supply Nuclear Power would have to be a part of the generation mix, eight of the historic, Government owned, nuclear sites were identified as having the key factors necessary for the successful development as new nuclear sites. These factors were:-

  • Supportive Geology and Geography
  • Road Connectivity
  • National Grid Connectivity
  • Access to Estuary (cooling water and transport)

  • These eight sites were put up for tender and two, Oldbury and Wylfa, were acquired by Horizon. Olbury in the Severn Estuary is now decommissioned and Wylfa on Anglesey, North Wales is the last remaining operational Magnox station. Horizon has acquired additional land adjoining each of these two sites to enable the preparation for and construction of new nuclear stations.

    Hitachi are intending to install at least 5,400 MW across the two sites in a multi-billion pound development programme. There is currently a team of around 150 staff working on the programme but this will increase to 400 as work progresses. Construction will be contracted out to a consortium of contractors lead by Hitachi-GE. Following successful commissioning it is likely that Hitachi will seek to pass the management and running of the operational site to a commercial operator.

    Wylfa will be Horizon's lead site where two Hitachi UK-Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (UK-ABWR) will be built. The work on the Oldbury site will be phased to follow Wylfa allowing full advantage to be taken of the lessons learnt.

    Wylfa is expected to be producing power in the early to mid 2020s and to that end the long term programme is under development including such key factors as optimisation of construction /financing strategy and supply chain readying.

    The ABWR is a proven technology which has been licensed for use in Japan, Taiwan and the USA. There are eight in operation with more currently under construction. The design is considered to be safe, reliable and can be built and run economically and this will be reviewed in depth within the UK approval process.

    The UK General Design Assessment is currently underway and all permissions and consultations are targeted to reach completion by 2017. The main construction at Wylfa will begin once all the permissions and conditions are in place around the end of 2018. For further information see Wilfa

    Hitachi will supply the reactor components from Japan but at least 60% of the construction costs will be spent in the UK and about 1000 permanent high quality jobs directly associated with the facility will be generated with many knock-on jobs in the surrounding local economy. Up to 6000 jobs will be created during the peak of the construction phase.

    Horizon were considerably heartened by the terms of the agreement between the EDF Group and UK Government on key commercial terms for Hinckley Point C and are pressing ahead with their plans on the supposition that similar terms will be made available to Horizon.

    As is usual with Club meetings, the talk was followed by tea and biscuits during which members were afforded the opportunity to talk to John Gilbert

    Julian Todman