It was an announcement that even the
sceptics knew had to come - and in
terms of Britain's nuclear energy future it
was a pivotal moment.
After years of highs and lows, with one
big player after another pulling out in fear
of the risks involved in the billions of
pounds of investment needed, French
energy giant EDF Energy took the plunge.
Backed with new money from China, and
guaranteed prices for its nuclear energy
by the British Government, it announced
the go-ahead for Britain's first new
nuclear power plant in two decades to be
built at Hinkley Point C in Somerset.
Within weeks of the announcement the then
Energy Minister Michael Fallon was to tell a
London audience of manufacturers of the
"huge opportunities" the £multi-billion
Hinkley investment throws up for UK companies - from
construction right through
Tiers 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the manufacturing
and engineering supply chain; through operation and finally decommissioning.
NEW NUCLEAR FLEET
Hinkley Point C, he said, "represents the
start of investment in a new fleet of nuclear
power stations" - with plans in place to
deliver around 16 GW of new nuclear by
2030. That broadly translates into at least 12
new nuclear reactors at five sites currently
earmarked for development: Hinkley Point,
Sizewell, Wylfa, Oldbury and Moorside.
Total investment is estimated at £60 billion -
and there is a strong commitment by all the
reactor builders to find UK companies for their
supply chains. As much as 60% by value.
EDF, with 15 reactors at seven UK locations,
is typical of this commitment to local suppliers and has a track
record to prove it. Within
weeks of the Hinkley announcement it was
hosting a conference targeted at Tier 1 and
Tier 2 companies to highlight opportunities in
new build and how to access them.
Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy - the principal
contractor for the proposed reactors at
Wylfa and Oldbury - has a declared policy to
"work with suppliers to expand and develop
the role of the UK supply chain...our current
focus is on early engagement with prospective suppliers, investigating your interest,
capabilities, experience and aspirations to
develop your business."
Partners in Moorside include Toshiba and
GDF SUEZ of France with technology
provider Westinghouse. They are equally
committed to UK involvement - GDF SUEZ
for example has an 'Innovative SMEs
Charter' which, among other things, includes
a "pledge to help SMEs realise their innovation projects
and make a decisive contribution to
their future development."
Confirmation of Moorside, which will be
Europe's largest new nuclear development,
was confirmed as we were going to Press
with project milestones now being laid down.
No-one can be sure what all this means in
monetary terms, but with EDF estimating
that just under 60% of the Hinkley contract
value will go to UK companies, the numbers
are eye watering. And this is business
opportunity this year and now, not 10 years
down the line.
The message, as Minister Fallon said, is to
act NOW. And there is plenty of help out
there to prepare companies right the way
through the supply chain - through Tiers 2,
3 and 4 - so they can become part of this
chain of opportunity.
STRONG SUPPLY CHAIN
The fact is the nuclear industry needs you as
much as you need it. "Key to the successful
delivery of the new nuclear fleet will be a
strong domestic workforce and supply
chain. The opportunities are there for the
taking," said the Minister.
HINKLEY LAUNCHES NEW ERA
FOR 'A TOP TABLE NATION'
SUPPLY CHAIN ACTION PLAN TO RAISE UK CONTENT
continued on page 16
A computer generated
image of Hinkley Point C in
Somerset - the power plant
was the first to get the goahead in what is an ambitious
in the UK, where
local supply chain content is
a key priority.
Below: Apprentices at
Hinkley, where local recruitment is widespread.
images courtesy EDF Energy.