UK nuclear power about to see fresh progress

This week will finally see progress towards the next generation of UK nuclear power plants with three consortium bids being submitted for the Horizon energy group.

The group awards licenses to build nuclear reactors in Anglesey and Gloucestershire, with the deadline for formal bids expiring on Friday, with a sale expected to close by the end of the year.

Horizon nuclear
Each consortium believes their reactor design is the right foundation for Britain’s coming nuclear renaissance, although Areva (Euronext: CEI) and Westinghouse enjoy an advantage over Hitachi in that their reactor designs are much closer to being approved in the UK under a process known as the generic design assessment, or GDA.

Each of the three consortiums is led by a big reactor manufacturer – Westinghouse Electric and Areva, both of whom have formed partnerships with state-owned Chinese groups, and Hitachi. Areva has teamed up with China Guangdong Nuclear Power , and Westinghouse with State Nuclear Power Technology , as well as Exelon, the US power generator. Hitachi is leading an international consortium which has no Chinese role.

“This decision is going to have big implications for the UK, in terms of inward investment, the impact on our manufacturing supply chain and competition,” says Richard Clegg, nuclear director at Lloyd’s Register, the risk management group, reports the Financial Times.

At stake is the opportunity to create a bridgehead in one of the industrialised world’s most promising nuclear markets. Nuclear is critical to UK government goals of cutting emissions and keeping the lights on, amid a looming energy gap.

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