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First nuclear plant "ready by 2017"

French energy generator EDF said last week that it will start operating the UK’s first new nuclear plant by 2017.

EDF chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said that he would shift resources to the UK from its Flamanville 3 nuclear reactor construction site in France when work finished. This is expected to happen in 2012.

EDF is considering several sites for its UK nuclear programme including Hinkley Point in Somerset where existing Magnox plants are due to shut down.

“It is possible and highly desirable to have new nuclear power stations in operation by the end of 2017,” he said, adding that Christmas 2017 was his target for getting the first new power into the national grid. “We need this fixed date as 2009 is a critical year for decisions to be made.”

De Rivaz was speaking at a lunch organised by recruitment specialist Odgers’ Infrastructure Practice. The event was attended by senior construction and power industry executives.

EDF manages a network of 59 nuclear power stations in France and in January this year completed the £12.5bn deal to take over British Energy and its eight UK nuclear reactors.

He said that the new nuclear power stations programme was a vital part of the UK’s future energy mix. He added that, while he did not want to see corners cut in the planning process there was a need for the government to press forward with the delivery of its new energy policy this year.

He also urged the UK industry to stop complaining about the delays which have previously held up the programme and said they should focus on the opportunities that a new UK nuclear power generation programme has brought to the nation and the infrastructure supply chain.

“This is a formidable opportunity to build a pool of talent in the UK,” he said.

“It is important to have an outstanding UK supply chain - politically because it creates jobs but also because it helps local communities.”

De Rivaz said that EDF would be holding an industry day on 30 June to help the supply chain understand the firm’s nuclear power programme in the UK.

He said that it would be a great opportunity for the available skills and resources to form a united approach to meet the nuclear challenges ahead.

“We are planning a large gathering to form an alliance,” he explained, hinting at the need to mobilise the industry to ensure that the government stays committed to the programme.

New Civil Engineer will be holding its Engineering New Nuclear Build conference on 1st July at which delegates will have the opportunity to hear from Westinghouse and Areva about future technologies and construction priorities. BERR will also be supporting the event as will local authorities who may find themselves playing host to a new nuclear power plant and wil be available to answer questions about future




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