The UK's stuttering nuclear renaissance has received a huge boost, with Japanese engineering giant Hitachi taking over plans to build two power plants in a £700 million deal which will create thousands of jobs.
The firm is buying Horizon Nuclear Power - which has the rights to build reactors at Wylfa on Anglesey, North Wales, and Oldbury in Gloucestershire - from its German owners E.ON and RWE npower.
The Government and unions welcomed the deal, which drives forward plans for a fleet of new nuclear power stations across the UK.
The facilities, which could be feeding electricity into the national grid in the first half of the 2020s, are expected to generate power equivalent to that needed for up to 14 million homes over 60 years.
Up to 6,000 jobs are expected to be created during construction at each site, with a further 1,000 permanent jobs at both locations once they are operational. Hitachi has also signed supply chain deals with UK engineering firms Rolls-Royce and Babcock International and has pledged to establish a module assembly facility in the UK.
The Horizon venture was set up in 2009 as part of the drive to meet the UK's carbon reduction goals, but RWE and E.ON put the business up for sale in March after Germany's move to abandon nuclear power in the wake of Japan's Fukushima disaster.
Doubts have grown about the private sector's commitment to the UK's nuclear programme, but Prime Minister David Cameron said the announcement was a "decades-long, multibillion-pound vote of confidence" in the UK: "It will support up to 12,000 jobs during construction and thousands more permanent highly skilled roles once the new power plants are operational, as well as stimulating exciting new industrial investments in the UK's nuclear supply chain."
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward 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. New nuclear isn't only about keeping the lights on and emissions down, it's an industrial strategy with big potential wins."
Hitachi president Hiroaki Nakanishi said: "Today starts our 100-year commitment to the UK and its vision to achieve a long-term, secure, low-carbon and affordable energy supply."
Hitachi said it will make a "significant" investment in training engineers, construction teams and operating staff for the plants, and work with its partners and with local colleges and universities to develop training programmes. The move will create a "strong and permanent base" of nuclear skills in the UK which also have a global demand, the firm added.