The outlook for new nuclear construction in Wales may have taken a bleak turn, but that hasn’t stopped the Welsh government from seeking other opportunities for its nuclear industry. On February 5, the government announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Sizewell C Consortium, an organization of nearly 200 businesses and trade unions from the United Kingdom's nuclear supply chain focused on ensuring that the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk, England, actually gets built.
The consortium includes the firms Atkins, Balfour Beatty Bailey, Cavendish Nuclear, Doosan Babcock, EDF, Laing O’Rourke, and Mott MacDonald, as well as the unions GMB, Unite, and Prospect.
A big deal: According to the announcement, in the event that the Sizewell C project is approved, the MOU could potentially see an investment of up to £900 million (about $1.2 billion) in the Welsh nuclear supply chain and up to 4,700 jobs supported across Wales. The signatories also view the agreement as a way to help retain the Welsh nuclear skills base.
What they’re saying: “Wales has a strong history of nuclear expertise and know-how,” said Ken Skates, Welsh economy minister. “A number of businesses across the country are now established parts of the global nuclear supply chain, and they are now poised to benefit should Sizewell C be given the go-ahead. While we have recently had disappointing news about Wylfa Newydd, we remain committed to that project and the supply chain. This MOU shows how the Welsh expertise in the nuclear industry is in demand and can be used across the U.K. and further afield.”
Cameron Gilmour, vice president of nuclear for Doosan Babcock and spokesman for the Sizewell C Consortium, added, “This MOU is a signal of intent from the nuclear industry that Sizewell C can deliver jobs, skills, and long-term economic growth right across Wales. The consortium . . . is determined to build on Wales’s proud nuclear heritage and now stands ready to do so. We need to continue along the process of approval for Sizewell C in order to deliver the advantages to nuclear suppliers in Wales.”
A little history: Électricité de France subsidiary EDF Energy first proposed the construction of a new nuclear facility at the Sizewell site in 2012. Consisting of twin European pressurized reactors, the Sizewell C station would be built next to Sizewell B, a 1,198-MWe pressurized water reactor that began operation in 1995. (The Sizewell site also houses Sizewell A, a 290-MWe Magnox gas-cooled reactor, which was permanently shuttered in 2006.) Sizewell C would be a near copy of the two-unit Hinkley Point C station, currently under construction in Somerset, England.
In May of last year, EDF Energy applied to the U.K. government’s Planning Inspectorate for a development consent order to build the plant. The DCO application was accepted for review in July, and in December the government announced that it would begin talks with EDF to fund the project.