An ambitious deal with the nuclear sector to ensure that nuclear energy continues to power the UK for years to come — through major innovation, cutting-edge technology and ensuring a diverse and highly skilled workforce — was announced on 28 June by the Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark.
The deal, which is worth over £200 million and follows the Government’s recent announcement that it is to enter into negotiations with Hitachi over the Wylfa Newydd project, will spearhead Britain’s move towards cleaner economic growth, while promoting new opportunities in the nuclear sector.
These will including a focus on innovation to develop the technology and skills needed to maintain the UK’s position as one of the world’s leading ‘nuclear countries’, along with a “a strong commitment” to increasing the diversity of the workforce so that more women can take advantage of new dedicated nuclear colleges and national schemes (currently, only 22% of the UK’s nuclear workforce is female, and just 15% of those females are nuclear engineers).
The aim is that the deal will deliver up to 100,000 jobs overall in nuclear by 2021; there is also a target that by 2030, 40% of these jobs will be undertaken by women.
Mr Clark said: “The UK is the home of civil nuclear technology. With this investment in innovation and our commitment to increasing diversity in an already highly skilled workforce, I want to ensure that we remain the world leader.
“Nuclear energy not only fuels our power supply, it fuels local jobs, wages and economic prosperity, and it drives UK innovation.
“This sector deal marks an important moment for the Government and industry to work collectively to drive clean growth and ensure that civil nuclear remains an important part of the UK’s energy future.”
Lord Hutton, co-chairman of the Nuclear Industry Council, 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.”
Meanwhile, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said: “British innovation is at the forefront of world-wide advances in the nuclear sector, and there is clearly a demand for UK goods and services from around the world.
“This demand is exactly why we’re putting a strong emphasis on our ambition to secure £2 billion of contracts related to the sector by 2030, both at home and overseas.”