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Business secretary Greg Clark announces £200m nuclear sector deal

Words: Martin Read
Energy secretary Greg Clark / Shutterstock_589871681

A kick-start for a new advanced manufacturing programme to develop nuclear technologies and a commitment to increase gender diversity in the sector are among components in this latest part of the government's industrial strategy.

The deal, designed to secure the UK’s civil nuclear future and drive down energy costs, was announced by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark. 

“The UK is the home of civil nuclear technology,” said Clark. “With this investment in innovation and our commitment to increasing diversity in an already highly skilled workforce, I want to ensure we remain the world leader. Nuclear energy not only fuels our power supply, it fuels local jobs, wages, economic prosperity and drives UK innovation.”

The strategy was launched at Trawsfynydd, a site which, according to Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns, places Wales “at the centre of a UK arc of the nuclear industry”.

Cairns said the new UK Government strategy “represents a road map which will drive innovation in the nuclear industry, create jobs and provide a significant boost to the local economy here in North Wales”.

Co-chair of the Nuclear Industry Council Lord Hutton said: “The industry wants nuclear energy to remain competitive against other forms of low-carbon energy, which is why we are committed to working with government to reduce costs across the sector. Today’s funding boost will support this common goal – increasing the UK’s industrial capabilities as well as signalling our global leadership in nuclear to the rest of the world.”

The money will be used:

  • to fund R&D associated with modular reactors;
  • to support vendors in accelerating the development of modular reactor designs;
  • to build capacity to assess and license novel reactor designs;
  • to create a National Fusion Technology Platform at Culham in Oxfordshire;
  • to fund an advanced manufacturing and construction programme; and
  • to fund a new national supply chain programme.

The deal also comes with a commitment to increase gender diversity with a target of 40 per cent women working in the civil nuclear sector by 2030.

The deal will also see the nuclear industry cutting the costs of new nuclear power stations by 30 per cent by 2030, and the cost of decommissioning old nuclear sites by up to a fifth.

Rachel Reeves, chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, described the deal as “a welcome commitment to the UK’s civil nuclear industry and to jobs and innovation.

“I hope the secretary of state will ensure that the government’s commitment on nuclear will be matched in the future by sector deals for the cheapest low-carbon technologies. The government must take these steps to ensure they deliver on the goal to decarbonise the UK at least cost so that energy bills for consumers are as cheap as possible.”

Full details can be found here.

Nuclear energy currently provides more than 20 per cent of the UK’s electricity. The nuclear deal is the fifth sector deal to be introduced since the publication of the UK’s industrial strategy in November 2017.

Image credit | Shutterstock