Hitachi Ltd. said it has applied for a site license to construct and operate nuclear power plants in Britain, aiming to start operations from the first half of the 2020s.

Horizon Nuclear Power Ltd., Hitachi's British nuclear unit which was purchased from a major German utility in 2012, will oversee the construction of two advanced boiling-water reactors on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales. The company hopes to start construction in the latter half of 2019 after obtaining permission from British authorities following their assessments.

Hitachi's Wednesday announcement comes at a time when Japan's nuclear industry is facing significant challenges.

Last week, industrial conglomerate Toshiba Corp.'s U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse Electric Co. filed for bankruptcy as the Japanese firm rushed to cover huge losses related to the nuclear business and pull out of overseas nuclear operations.

While Japan Atomic Power Co., a builder and operator of nuclear plants, is also involved in Hitachi's project, whether Japanese nuclear companies can continue to build plants overseas remains to be seen.

Hitachi said in February that it has partnered with the Exelon Corp. group to promote its nuclear power project in Britain, as it seeks to use the largest U.S. nuclear power plant operator's expertise in running reactors.