German energy giants set to push the button on Welsh reactor
Mark Leftly is political correspondent at The Independent on Sunday and associate business editor across the Independent titles. He writes a weekly column, Parliamentary Business, published on a Wednesday, that covers politics and the City. He is a multi-award winning reporter and was named Press Gazette's business magazine journalist of the year prior to joining The Independent on Sunday.
Wednesday 29 February 2012
An E.ON-RWE joint venture is poised to take a huge step towards building a nuclear power station in north Wales by choosing the reactor technology it will use for the project
Westinghouse, owned by Toshiba, and France's Areva have been battling it out to win contracts for their reactor designs from the energy giants that plan to build the UK's upcoming wave of nuclear stations.
The two designs are the only ones that have approval in principle from the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency.
It is understood that Horizon Nuclear Power, the nuclear developer owned by the two German energy giants E.ON and RWE, is about to decide which reactor it wants to use for its Wylfa B plant on the Isle of Anglesey, and could make an announcement this week.
Horizon also has a site near the village of Oldbury in South Gloucestershire. However, selecting the reactor for Wylfa is more pressing, as Horizon wants to build Wylfa B by 2020, five years ahead of Oldbury.
The two plants will cost about £15bn, result in 1,600 permanent jobs and have 6,000MW of energy capacity – enough to power 6 million homes.
The decision will be the latest evidence that the UK has rediscovered its appetite for nuclear power, less than a year after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in Japan called the whole programme into question. Other countries have in effect shut down their nuclear industries as a result of the Japanese crisis, with Germany planning to exit the sector entirely by 2022.
A nuclear industry source said: "Outside of India, China and Russia, we [the UK] are by far and away the furthest ahead with a new nuclear programme. We are have the developers, the sites and we want to build 10-13 reactors. Other countries are talking about new reactors in ones and twos."
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