More than 1,000 delegates from business – large and small – attended the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s third annual conference aimed at helping private business win nuclear industry supply chain contracts.
The NDA set up its first supply-chain business conference three years to help UK business pitch for nuclear industry projects and to overcome the ‘barriers to the nuclear services market’
Although by far the majority of contractors working in the UK nuclear energy industry are most involved in decommissioning reactors and plant – with the exception of the recent new-build announcement by France’s EDF for a new reactor at Hinkley Point C – there is a growing global market for nuclear decommissioning work.
By 2030 the International Atomic Energy Authority estimates that 145 nuclear power reactors will have been decommissioned at a cost of £250 billion with the total liability for reactors, fuel cycle facilities and research activities over the next 50 years estimated at approximately $1,000 billion.
Baroness Verma, the British nuclear minister in the Department for Energy (DECC) is also responsible for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. She told the NDA conference in Manchester;
“I want to see the UK take advantage of this market, and for our nuclear industry to become a global leader and truly compete in the global race for jobs and growth.
“However, you know as well as I, that the majority of this industry is currently and rightly occupied with the vital work of existing power generation and decommissioning which make a significant contribution to the economy today.
“It is within these parts of the nuclear sector and the wider construction industry that we have developed a strong and globally respected workforce – and this will also provide the foundations on which the new nuclear programme can prosper. “
The Minister also said that this is a ‘critical time for nuclear power in the UK, where we are on the cusp of a new-build renaissance with Hinkley Point-C.’
“This is an enormous step forward towards the construction of the first new nuclear power station in the UK in a generation. It will begin the process of replacing the existing fleet of nuclear stations, most of which are due to close by the early 2020s.”
EDF have estimated that 25,000 jobs will be created during construction of the new nuclear power plant in Somerset, with 5,600 people employed on site at peak of construction, and 900 permanent jobs over 60 years of expected operation.