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Industry buoyed by Nuclear Sector Deal

Nuclear dome lift

The Nuclear Sector Deal will give the supply chain the confidence to invest and innovate, industry leaders have said. 

The £200M deal, announced yesterday, indicates government support for the nuclear industry and will boost the UK supply chain which can now work to a long-term plan, they said.

It is up to the industry and government to work together to make sure the money funds targeted research and development (R&D) into innovation, such as advanced modular reactors, Assystem international business development vice president Tom Jones told New Civil Engineer.

“The immediate challenge is how do we channel that £200M from government into the industry and into the supply chain?” he said.

“The next step is the most important thing, and the next steps have to be cracking on with the implementation of the plan. The hard work is still to come, both from government and industry.”

Jones added: “This investment does really demonstrate the innovation we’re trying to create and it gives us the confidence to commit to increasing our already highly skilled workforce in the UK and we’ve got no doubt that we will collectively maintain the UKs position as one of the world’s leading nuclear nations.

“It gives confidence to companies like ourselves and other nuclear supply chains to invest in the future, and whether that’s skills, innovation, technology, I think the £200M will fund R&D to bring down costs and I think that’s what the UK has needed for some time, because there’s been so much uncertainty about the nuclear programme.”

The agreement includes a new £40M thermal hydraulics facility and up to £32M investment for research and development into advanced modular reactors.

It also commits to reducing the cost of nuclear new build projects by 30% by 2030 and the cost of decommissioning by 20% by the same year.

Laing O’Rourke Group technical director Paul Westbury said: “We also welcome the governments strong support for innovation and new ideas in finding ways to meet the 30% cost reductions targets for nuclear new build by 2030 - the industry must be radical in meeting this challenge. And it is recognised that a core part of the answer lies in us significantly improving the construction industry’s productivity.

“We must move away from outdated construction methods and invest in digital design and engineering, and offsite manufacture and assembly. We therefore welcome the Governments strong support for the use of advanced manufacturing to transform delivery and see this as a key driver for our Industry’s next steps.

“With most of our ageing nuclear fleet due to be offline by 2035 we need a number of large new nuclear plants, as well as the rollout of SMRs, in order to keep the lights on,” he added.

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