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Northern Powerhouse core to UK's next-generation nuclear energy opportunity

A Northern Powerhouse delegation is setting out the immense opportunity for the region to harness a new wave of low-carbon next-generation nuclear energy, cementing its position as a global centre of excellence for decommissioning in the process at the Civil Nuclear Showcase (CNS).

Spearheaded by the NP11 – the North’s business-led voice, comprising its 11 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) – and the North West Nuclear Arc consortium, the public-private delegation is championing the case for further investment, and policy support from Government at the event in London from March 3rd to March 4th.

The delegation comprises more than 50 senior business, academic and local government stakeholders from the Northern Powerhouse’s nuclear industry, many of whom will be presenting at the event.

Collectively, they are outlining the transformative socio-economic impact that a pan-Northern next-generation nuclear strategy could have.

Chief among these are the opportunity to secure high-value jobs in remote coastal communities; establish the North as a world-leader in Small Modular Reactor (SMR) technology which has a predicted global export potential of £250bn; and to safeguard a reliable low-carbon source of energy to support the country’s move towards zero carbon by 2050.

Held over two days in London and facilitated by the Department for International Trade (DIT), the annual event is attended by the nuclear industry’s international leaders, policymakers and investors from a raft of countries.

Alongside a keynote address from Nadhim Zahawi MP, Minister for Business and Industry, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the nuclear sector lead, a highlight of the programme will be Preston-based Westinghouse Springfields unveiling plans for a new Clean Energy Park at its site. Westinghouse Springfields provides the fuel for almost a third of the UK’s low carbon electricity. The new park will bring together technology developers, the supply chain and academics to develop and commercialise advanced nuclear technologies including SMR, Gen IV and fusion.

David Levene, Strategic Coordinator at NP11, said: “The Northern Powerhouse is home to more than 75 per cent of the UK nuclear industry’s workforce and almost half of country’s nuclear energy is produced here. It is truly the core of our nuclear sector.

“From the splitting of the atom in Manchester, through the establishment of the first civil nuclear plant at Calder Hall, we have an illustrious history in groundbreaking atomic innovation. That past has paved the way for us to collectively seize the opportunity presented by a new wave of next-generation nuclear technology that is altogether safer, more efficient and more sustainable.

“Sites in Cumbria, North Wales and Tees Valley have all been highlighted as potential test-beds for the Small Modular Reactor programme being brought forward by Rolls-Royce. We have world-leading expertise in advanced metal production in Sheffield, already sought after by nuclear sites the world over. While the North West is home to cutting-edge modular design at Cammel Laird. Both sites are already collaborating on the SMR programme.

“The design and manufacture of this pioneering technology presents an incredible opportunity for businesses in the supply chain and is expected to support 10s of thousands of high-value jobs. If the Government truly wishes to level up the towns and cities across the North, it should continue to support both the programme and the wider nuclear industry here. That is the delegation’s message for the Civil Nuclear Showcase and we’re looking forward to a productive two days.”

Dr Rebecca Weston, co-chair of the North West Nuclear Arc, added: “The North has become a world-leader in both decommissioning R&D, and the operational practicalities of carrying it out. As more of the old generation of nuclear power plants around the world reach the end of their fuel cycles, there’s a real opportunity to export the expertise and innovation we’ve developed here.

“In addition to bringing together local government, industry and academic leaders, the NWNA looks to create opportunities for businesses and communities in remote coastal towns which depend on the industry.

“Because nuclear energy undoubtedly has a key role to play in the UK’s future energy production. Despite the country making a welcome move towards zero carbon by 2050, and the production of cleaner, cheaper energy, based on current predictions, the National Grid will still require a 50gigawatt baseload requirement which can’t currently be met by renewable sources alone.

“Next-generation nuclear energy remains the greenest way to meet that shortfall. The North has the fusion of skills, infrastructure and nuclear-licensed assets to deliver it.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Sarah Jones .

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