UK government boosts nuclear support

03 December 2009

UK business secretary Lord Mandelson has announced a package of measures to support the country's civil nuclear industry. The package aims to help UK-based companies take advantage of the opportunities presented by both an expanding domestic and global nuclear power market.


Speaking in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, Mandelson outlined a package of announcements in Yorkshire and the northwest of England. The package includes a new Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC) that will bring together university research and industrial expertise to develop manufacturing techniques and components that will meet the demand for new nuclear power plants. It will help a consortium of some 30-50 manufacturing companies gain accreditation to produce nuclear-quality components.


The NAMRC will be based in South Yorkshire, led by University of Sheffield in partnership with University of Manchester, with Rolls-Royce as the lead industrial partner. Other founding industrial partners include Areva, Westinghouse, Sheffield Forgemasters and the National Metals Technology Centre (NAMTEC). The government announced in July that the NAMRC was to be set up with £15 million ($25 million) of funding from the Strategic Investment Fund.


Mandelson also announced that an additional £8 million ($13 million) will be provided to upgrade the nuclear laboratories at Manchester University's Dalton Nuclear Institute to support the NAMRC. This is in addition to the £15 million ($25 million) that the government has already committed to the NAMRC.


He also said that the government would provide support for Rolls-Royce's planned civil nuclear factory. In July, Rolls-Royce announced plans to invest over £300 million ($495 million), including £45 million ($74 million) of government funding, in four new plants in the UK. One of these plants will be for components for nuclear power plants. The company said that the new plant will manufacture, assemble and test components for new civil nuclear power plants. These components will include pressure vessels, heat exchangers and other large reactor parts. Rolls Royce has now confirmed that this facility will be in South Yorkshire


Mandelson also announced that a Nuclear Low Carbon Economic Area (LCEA) would be created in the North West and Yorkshire, led by the North West Development Agency (NWDA) in close collaboration with Yorkshire Forward. As part of the Nuclear LCEA the North West will support the Manufacturing Advisory Service's (MAS) nuclear services as part of the Nuclear LCEA, offering manufacturing companies advice and support to access the nuclear energy market.


Mandelson said, "We know that we have to make the transition to a low carbon future, and the government is determined to ensure that British businesses get the support they need to seize the business opportunities that transition creates. The civil nuclear sector is one of the key low carbon industries where the UK has the potential for job creation, economic growth and engineering and manufacturing excellence." He added, "Today's announcement is about investing in our future. A greener, smarter, more skilled, more balanced British economy."


Energy minister Lord Hunt, speaking today at the Nuclear Industries Association's (NIA's) Energy Choices conference, commented: "Nuclear is a low carbon and secure source of energy and must be part of our future energy mix if we're to meet our climate change goals. We've already had commitment from industry to build 16GW of new nuclear in the UK. This manufacturing package will ensure we utilise the skills that we have in this country to make sure those power stations get built."


The announcement of the package was also welcome by Dougie Rooney, national officer for energy at Unite, the largest manufacturing union in the UK. He said: "Lord Mandelson's announcement is a major boost for British manufacturing and puts the UK on the road to becoming a global player in the engineering and manufacturing supply chain for nuclear power. This is good news for jobs, our economy and for Britain's energy security."


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