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EdF begins nuclear supply hunt

Energy giant EdF is looking to create fully developed supply chains ahead of the hoped for start of work on Britain’s first nuclear power stations for 20 years at Hinkley in Somerset.

It is encouraging potential bidders to see themselves as part of a nuclear supply chain that could be involved in all four of EdF’s new stations in the UK and up to 30 overseas.

As NCE went to press the company was holding a regional supplier forum in Bridgewater, Somerset to give potential local suppliers information about the work packages available at Hinkley and how to get involved.

On 13 September a national supplier day will be held in London to do the same. EdF is planning to build four new nuclear plants in the UK, two at Hinkley and two at Sizewell, costing around £4bn each.

“This is a huge opportunity for the UK supply chain and a huge responsibility,” EdF head of procurement Alan Cumming told NCE. “The UK nuclear industry has withered on the vine since Sizewell was built. Our project creates an opportunity to reinvigorate UK expertise and capability.

“This is a long term project and the opportunities are likely to be equally long term for those companies who take advantage. This is not a five year project and you get your bonus. It is larger than that. We have well in excess of 30 applications in the USA for new stations and an established English speaking supply chain will be an asset.

Opportunities are available at Hinckley for non specialist firms, he said.

“The French way is to go for large lump sum turnkey contracts. The UK supply chain is more complex and relationship based”

Alan Cumming

“There is a whole range of contracts for services and supplies which will need to be awarded,” Cumming added. “Many of these do not relate to the nuclear element of the project.

“But the supply chain needs to gear up and be ready for these opportunities. Working on a nuclear site requires particular levels of expertise, competency and quality control.”

On Friday this week EdF will start public consultation on its “preferred proposals” for the Hinkley C1 plant which includes plans for the plant itself, and associated developments, transport plans and accommodation.

The energy firm is planning to let the earthworks contract for the massive 4M.m3 excavation needed for the power station and associated sea walls and tunnels at the end of October. Main civils work is expected to start in summer 2011. The first plant should start generating power in 2017 with the other three UK stations coming on line at 18 month intervals after that.

“The company is to let around 160 works packages under the NEC form of contract,” Cumming said.

“We recognise the UK supply chain operates differently to France [where the company is building a nuclear power station at Flamanville]. The French way is to go for large lump sum turnkey contracts. The UK supply chain is more complex and relationship based. We’ll use the NEC form as it is more collaborative and what we want on these plants is good solid relationships.

“We’ll be looking closely at how main contractors collaborate with their supply chain.

“Nuclear work is all about getting it right first time, every time. What we are doing is running a marathon. We need to train for the marathon. So getting the right people is a key issue.”

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