Hitachi (TSE:6501, Hitachi) today announced it has bought the Horizon nuclear power project in the UK for £696m ($1.2bn).

Horizon was set up by RWE and E.ON to build two new nuclear plants, but the German companies pulled out earlier this year citing financial difficulties following the Merkel government’s decision to withdraw from nuclear power.

The purchase is expected to be finalised by the end of November and Hitachi also announced today that it has signed deals with British companies Babcock International and Rolls-Royce to help plan and deliver the plants.

Hitachi president Hiroaki Nakanishi said that today marked the start of “our 100 year commitment to the UK and its vision to achieve a long-term, secure, low-carbon, and affordable energy supply”.

“We look forward to sharing Hitachi’s corporate vision and nuclear business policy with the management and employees of Horizon, and working harmoniously with UK companies and stakeholders for the delivery of this vital part of Britain’s national infrastructure and the creation of a strong UK nuclear power company.”

The two locations for the plants are at Anglesey in Wales and Oldbury in England and Hitachi will utilise ABWR (Advanced Boiling Water Reactor) at both sites.

Hitachi said that it anticipates the creation of up to 6000 direct jobs at each site during the construction phase and a further 1000 permanent jobs per site once the reactors are operational.

Todays news was warmly welcomed by the UK’s Nuclear Industry Association, which said that the deal “demonstrates strong investor confidence in the UK”.

NIA chief executive Keith Parker said: “The sale of Horizon is a tremendous boost for the UK new build programme and the UK nuclear industry. We are confident that the consortium will now work closely with the regulators to ensure that an agreement is reached on the design assessment of the reactor, which has already received regulatory approval in Japan, Taiwan and the US. This announcement is good news for the UK supply chain, for jobs in the nuclear sector, and for the wider economy.”

UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: “Hitachi bring with them decades of expertise, and are responsible for building some of the most advanced nuclear reactors on time and on budget, so I welcome their commitment to helping build a low carbon secure energy future for the UK. I particularly welcome Hitachi’s firm commitment to involve the UK supply chain and local workforce.”

Angela Knight, chief executive of Energy UK, said that the deal “demonstrates the benefits in jobs and growth that the UK could see if the right policies and regulations are in place to attract the investment that we need. Today’s announcement represents a vote of confidence in the UK’s energy future.”