Hinkley Point C welding training centre opens

03 May 2022

UK Energy Minister Greg Hands has opened one of three new training centres to support the Hinkley Point C (HPC) project in Somerset. Together with existing facilities and investment into education and skills, the centres will be ready to help local people join the additional 4000 workers needed for the next phase of the plant's construction.

Energy Minister Greg Hands (front right) opening the new Welding Centre of Excellence at Bridgwater and Taunton College (Image: EDF Energy)

The minister unveiled the new Welding Centre of Excellence at Bridgwater and Taunton College's campus in Bridgwater on 28 April. The project has invested GBP8 million (USD10 million) into the three new training centres, in partnership with the college. The Welding Centre will train and qualify 500 welders a year, helping local people into work and meeting skills shortages in the South West and across Britain.

The welding facility is the latest Centre of Excellence to be opened in support of the Hinkley Point C project, which has now invested a total of GBP24 million into education, skills and employment support. It joins the Electrical Centre of Excellence in Bridgwater and the Construction Skills and Innovation Centre, in Cannington. A Mechanical Centre of Excellence will open in Cannington this summer, to train students in pipefitting, steel erection and plating. Together they will support the next phase of the project, as electrical systems and major components begin to be installed.

"The partnership between Bridgwater and Taunton College and Hinkley Point C continues to open up new training and employment opportunities for everyone - no matter their age, background or previous skill set," said Andy Berry, Principle and Chief Executive of Bridgwater and Taunton College. "The new training Centres of Excellence are not only making a difference to local career prospects today but will ensure Somerset has the skills needed for the next generation of net-zero projects."

The opening of the new welding facility came as Hinkley Point C publishes its 2022 Socio-Economic Impact Report. The report shows the opportunities provided by Hinkley Point C are playing an important role in improving social mobility in the South West. The District of Sedgemoor is seeing the largest growth in household income of any area in Devon and Somerset - above the regional average and above cities like Exeter and Plymouth. So far, the HPC project has trained 922 apprentices and is on track to hit its target of hiring 1000 apprentices during construction later this year. GBP4.1 billion has been spent directly with companies in the South West so far, with the local area idirectly benefitting from Hinkley Point C's investment. Some 1400 companies in the South West are now involved in building Hinkley Point C, with 14,000 jobs across the region expected to be supported throughout the project.

"The energy crisis has shown the need for Hinkley Point C's reliable, low-carbon electricity is more urgent than ever," said Hinkley Point C's Managing Director Stuart Crooks. "This report shows the project is also delivering big social and economic benefits in the communities that host us and beyond. It's good news to see that productivity and prosperity is rising locally and we've worked hard to ensure that people in the region can benefit from the many job opportunities on offer in the next phase of construction."

By delivering on the ambition to supercharge new nuclear capacity, as detailed in the Energy Security Strategy, published in early-April, many more communities could benefit from nuclear projects like Hinkley, the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) noted.

"Hinkley Point C shows how nuclear investment is vital to levelling up the country, sustaining thousands of high skilled, well-paid jobs and generating billions of pounds of investment in the South West in particular," said NIA Chief Executive Tom Greatrex. "The government's Energy Security Strategy envisions deploying much more nuclear power, replicating these benefits for communities up and down the country. That is why we urge the government to take the necessary steps on siting and financing new nuclear capacity to make that vision a reality."

Construction of Hinkley Point C - composed of two EPR reactors of 1630 MWe each - began in December 2018. The start of electricity generation from unit 1 is expected in June 2026, with unit 2 following in 2027 with a projected lifespan of 60 years. Negotiations between the government and EDF are on-going for a replica project of Hinkley Point C at Sizewell C in Suffolk in eastern England.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News