Nothing short of a 'breathtaking' investment in new nuclear, and the skills to build those stations are needed, according to Business, enterprise and regulatory reform secretary John Hutton today.
Speaking to the UNITE union, Hutton said he wanted companies to vote with their feet and commit cash. "We're taking the Energy Bill through Parliament. The hard task lies ahead.
"Translating this policy into action on the ground is my top priority. Getting companies to commit real cash – billions of it – at a difficult time for the global banking system will be the most important test of our resolve," he said.
Hutton's ambition is clear - to, "clear a path to becoming the No1 place in the world for companies to do business in new nuclear."
He said, "The potential scale and complexity of each investment is breathtaking. Just replacing our existing capacity alone will equate to 3 times the size of the project to build Terminal 5 at Heathrow. It could represent around twenty billion pounds worth of business for UK companies."
Hutton also said that the scope for new nuclear in the UK is almost unlimited. "And with no artificial cap to constrain the potential of new build in the UK, there is every reason to believe that the industry could be contributing a significantly higher proportion of the UK’s energy in the decades ahead."
Hutton said the new nuclear industry will be a massive employer. "But energy security and climate change should provide the push for a significant expansion of nuclear in the UK in the coming decades. And could potentially create up to 100,000 jobs. This includes thousands of highly-skilled, well paid jobs and many in some of the UK's most deprived communities.
He underlined the priorities for work, in engineering firms to build new nuclear. "First the services to help build and operate the station – designers, engineering firms, project managers and construction companies; and the manufacturers to produce structural products and goods such as concrete, steel and pipe and machinery and equipment including reactor components, pumps, switchgear and transformers."
To keep these skills available, Hutton pledged to keep pushing students into engineering to keep the size of the workforce from shrinking.
"The design, build, operation and decommissioning of new nuclear power stations call for a spectrum of professional skills - from engineers, scientists, mathematicians, radiation specialists and health physicists to project managers, office workers and administrators.
"It's time to update the strategic review of the industry’s skills base that was run at the beginning of the decade."
He said Sector Skills Councils are running an audit of the energy sector to identify skills shortages, and he wanted to see more degree courses at Universities, to supplement those already offered in Manchester, Central Lancashire and Portsmouth.
In conclusion, he said he wanted new nuclear to, "help hundreds of British companies and thousands of British workers benefit from the re-birth of our nuclear industries."